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Unfortunately, the law is not always fair. I'm afraid what you have been told represents the state of the law; your wife will have to pay the penalty for late enrollment.
If you want to change it, you might call your Congressperson. However, with all the upcoming changes in health care, it's unlikely this change would get through Congress.
I wish I could be of some help, but that's the way it is.
Thank you. It is worth the $30 not to be so disposed to begin baying at a tree wherein resides no raccoon.