Health

Next month, uninsured Kentuckians will have a another chance to enroll in health insurance for this year.

Gov. Steve Beshear on Tuesday announced an extension to give Kentucky residents unaware of the possible tax penalties from being uninsured more time to sign up.

People will have the chance to enroll from March 2 to April 30.

Kentuckians who were unable to complete an application through Kynect, Kentucky’s state-based health insurance exchange, due to technical difficulties have already been given an extension of Feb. 28.

“Many people have not started to work on their taxes and are unaware probably that they are subject to a tax penalty,” Kynect executive director Carrie Banahan said.

The additional sign-up period gives those residents a shot at a less severe penalty next tax season for being uninsured for part of 2015, she said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced Friday that people signing up for coverage through federal exchanges would be able to enroll between March 15 and April 30. People who take advantage of special enrollment will still owe a fee for any months they were uninsured and didn’t qualify for an exemption in 2014 and 2015.

The penalty for not having health insurance in 2014 is $95 for each household member or 1 percent of income, whichever is higher. During next year’s tax season, people who didn’t have coverage in 2015 will face a fine of $325 for each household member or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater.

“You’re better off buying insurance, having something for your money than paying the penalty,” Banahan said.

During the 2015 enrollment period, which began Nov. 15, 158,685 people newly enrolled or renewed their coverage through Kynect.

Banahan said it is unknown how many more people will enroll with the extension beginning next week. She said when people log on to the Kynect website to enroll, they will simply check a box designating special enrollment tax penalty as the reason for enrolling after the Feb.y 15 deadline.

She said it may be too early to say whether there will be an option to enroll after the 2016 open enrollment deadline, but if this year is any indication, it is highly likely.