Obamacare deadline still unclear to majority of Americans


A majority of Americans aren’t familiar with the date by which they need to acquire insurance in order to avoid the Obamacare “individual mandate” penalty, a new survey shows.

Fifty-five percent of Americans aren’t aware that most adults need to acquire health insurance by March 31 in order to avoid paying the penalty, according to the survey from the finance website Bankrate.com. Given a handful of dates to choose from, 45 percent did correctly identify the March 31 deadline.

"That's a surprisingly high number, given people's normal complete inattentiveness to public affairs," Mark Schlesinger, professor of public health at Yale University, said in a Bankrate release.

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  • Another 24 percent of Americans said the deadline was Jan. 1. The mandate technically went into effect on Jan. 1, but the government is giving Americans a three-month grace period to obtain insurance before the penalty kicks in. For 2014, the penalty is $95 or 1 percent of a person’s income.

    Eleven percent of Americans surveyed said the deadline is Dec. 31, 2014, while 20 percent said it was none of the dates offered or said they didn’t know. The survey of 1,006 adults, conducted between Jan. 16-19, has a margin of error rate of 3.5 percent.

    Last week, the Obama administration said that about 3 million people have so far signed up for private insurance on the new Obamacare marketplaces -- they’re aiming for about 7 million enrollees before the open enrollment period closes at the end of March. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the government should collect around $2 billion in 2015 in penalties from individuals who failed to get insurance.