(FOX19) - Nineteen days and counting. That's how long uninsured Americans have to take advantage of the ACA open enrollment period and avoid the penalty, which is essentially a tax bill.
Jackson Hewitt, the nation's second largest tax preparation firm, has partnered with ACA Healthcare Exchange GetInsured to guide people through the online insurance marketplace - a process they say takes only five to six minutes.
Brian Haile, Jackson Hewitt's Senior VP for Health Care Policy, says some people get downright apoplectic when they find out how much they actually have to pay if they choose not to buy into Obamacare.
"So many people walk in and assume they're only going to have to pay 95-dollars if they and their families remain uninsured for this next year whine in fact they're probably going to have to pay 1 percent of their income so when we work that out people are absolutely shocked," says Haile.
Using Haile's example, say a family of five makes $68 thousand a year. However, one family member goes uninsured - the 'one percent' tax penalty is $477. If you are penalized, it will be withheld from your 2014 tax refund. If the payment is not made, the IRS can withhold the amount from any future tax refunds with an accrued interest totaling nearly 3 percent.
Haile strongly advises tax filers not to let it come to that adding, "What you don't want to do is throw money down a rat hole and that's exactly what the penalty is. If you just throw it away you lose the opportunity to get coverage."
Haile admits that there are some people who might be better off paying the penalty rather than buying coverage. One way to know for sure is to use a tax calculator. TurboTax can walk you through the process online and it's free, but the bottom line is this: Millions of people who remain uninsured after March 31 are going to get a tax bill, one that is very likely to be more than they bargained for.