Now that the New Year is underway and tax season is right around the corner Peninsula Community Health Services of Alaska (PCHS) through their outreach and enrollment program is reaching out to help local people navigate through the new healthcare laws and penalties. In an address last week to the Soldotna Rotary Club Tina Wegener, PCHS outreach and open enrollment coordinator said, “My job in essence is to help people navigate and understand what the affordable healthcare act, commonly known as Obamacare is and what the penalties are and what it could mean to their futures and the futures of their businesses. I don’t try to force anyone into purchasing insurance that’s not my job, I’m there to listen, help and get them to understand what is happening. If they decide after talking with me they want insurance then I’m more than happy to help them apply through the market place and enroll for the insurance packages that we offer. I understand people’s frustration with the new laws and I’m all about having a cup of coffee, leaving the frustrations at the door and helping you as much as I can. If I don’t know I’ll be sure to get you the answer to your questions,” said Wegener.
Wegener says 2015 is the first year that tax penalties will be assessed to the uninsured, “Bottom line is if you don’t have insurance it’s going to cost you money. The law is that when you file your taxes you will be paying a fine or penalty if you don’t have coverage. I can help you understand the law and walk you through the process and fill out the forms that you’ll have to be looking at. If you were uninsured for part of the year that’s okay you won’t be charged the whole fine. There are different tax thresholds which is something we can help people with as well,” she said. While there are those who feel it may still cost less to pay the penalty than to pay for the insurance Wegner says, “Not necessarily true, it depends on your income. Some people for this year may only be paying a $95 penalty or 1% of their income depending on how much they earned. Starting 2015 that jumps up to $325 or 2% of your income whichever is larger,” she explained. Wegener’s position is funded through a federal grant and her services are offered free to the public. You can participate in the open enrollment program by calling Tina Wegener at PCHS Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm at 907-260-3691 “I make myself available almost seven days a week! I do like my Sundays off but love my job because it’s helping people and I’m willing to meet people even on Sunday if that’s the only day they have available. I can be available in the evenings for those with day jobs and we have a person on staff at PCHS Mon-Fri to make appointments her name is Kelly Whitmore,” said Wegner.