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Millions in health coverage gap seek to avoid tax penalty

By Emily Schmall, February 14, 2015

Stephanie Daugherty earns too much from her part-time job at a doctor’s office to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to comfortably afford one of the health plans for sale through the federally-run insurance exchange that Texas and many states use.

So the 26-year-old nursing student and mother paid a $180 tax penalty — 1 percent of her annual income — to spend another year uninsured.

“I just figured it was cheaper than signing up for health insurance,” said Daugherty, whose 4-year-old son is covered by Medicaid and who limits doctor visits to an annual exam at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

With Sunday’s deadline to enroll through the exchange looming, Daugherty met with an exchange adviser, or navigator, at her Fort Worth community college to see if she might qualify for federal subsidies. She doesn’t, but she also learned she may not have had to pay the penalty, after all.

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