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Obamacare Penalties: Government Clarifies Timing To Avoid Health Law Fines

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WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — You'll have to get coverage by Valentine's Day or thereabouts to avoid penalties for being uninsured, the Obama administration confirms, clarifying one of the health care law's least popular requirements.

That's about six weeks earlier than a March 31 deadline often cited previously.

The explanation: coverage typically starts on the first day of a given month, and it takes up to 15 days to process applications.

You still have to be covered by March 31 to avoid penalties for those remaining uninsured. But to successfully accomplish that you have to send in your application by the middle of February.

The Jackson Hewitt tax preparation company pointed out the wrinkle.

An administration official confirmed it. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

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