Health insurance fines loom as deadline nears

DENVER - Sunday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance, or else pay a fine. That fine has gone up, causing even more financial stress on the uninsured and those who choose to opt out of health insurance.

"I just cannot afford it in any way, shape, or form right now," 27-year-old Seth Valkonen said when talking about health insurance.

Valkonen chooses to be uninsured by paying a one time fine for not having coverage instead of a monthly premium.

"The penalty is cheaper than the overall total for the entire year," he said,

Already on a tight budget, this year's fine will hit Valkonen and many young people like him,  even harder.

In order to get more people to enroll, the fine for not having health insurance nearly doubled from last year up to $695 per person.

"I think it's obscene," he said.

"It's just another motivating factor. But I think the bigger risk is incurring medical costs that are going to be much higher than the fine," Luke Clark of Connect for Health Colorado said.

So as the deadline approaches, the local marketplace for insurance is trying to get the message out; it may seem cheaper to pay once and stay healthy, but it's much more of a gamble.

"You get nothing in return. With a health insurance premium you get financial security to protect yourself from that type of catastrophic financial loss," Clarke added.

Connect for Health has seen an increase in enrollment overall, and only about 6 percent of Colorado residents are uninsured.

For more information on how to register, and free registration events this weekend, head here.

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