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Reality Check: The Price Of Not Buying Health Insurance

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesotans have until Feb. 15 to sign up for health care insurance or pay a tax penalty.

And this year, that penalty could really sting.

According to MNsure, the state's health care exchange, the 2015 penalty for not buying insurance coverage is:

• Two percent of your yearly household income above the tax filing threshold. The maximum penalty using this method is set by the national average premium for a bronze plan.

• $325 per adult, or $162.50 per child under 18. The maximum penalty per family using this method is $975.

If you're tempted not to tell the truth about it -- you're lying to the IRS.

Besides, you still won't have insurance, said MNsure CEO Scott Leitz.

"A sizeable tax return could easily be erased if a tax penalty is due because you don't have health insurance," Leitz said. "It's also important to remember that even if you do pay the penalty, you still won't have any coverage, leaving you responsible for 100 percent of the cost of your medical care."

As the deadline approaches, there's increased MNsure activity at the State Capitol.

Exasperated critics of the health care law are rolling out "I-told-you-so's" after new figures show the vast majority of MNsure signups are in public, not private, insurance.

"Amazing," State Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, said. "That is exactly the opposite of what was sold."

And after a catastrophic rollout of its website last year, Democrats are abolishing the MNsure Board they created and making MNsure directly accountable to the governor – possibly creating the Minnesota Department of MNsure.

The Democratic architect of the health care website, State Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, admitted it had significant problems getting off the ground.

"I've done the hard soul searching to go back and say, you know, I think we got that wrong," Lourey said.

Meanwhile, MNsure reported Wednesday it has enrolled 117,000 people since Nov. 15, and more than 500,000 since the end of 2013.

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