Starting 2014, most individual in US are required to buy health insurance. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates this. This new law is supposed to add more than 30 million new subscribers to the group of people who will have health insurance coverage. The basic premise is to make it mandatory for most people to have health insurance there by avoid number of uninsured people who typically get healthcare coverage at government’s expense. Government will still subsidies the cost of health for low income people. How to get obamacare explains in detail how one can qualify for health insurance under new law.
Who will need to buy insurance?
Most US citizens and legal residence are required to have insurance starting 2014. Alien’s who are legally present in US will also need to have health insurance. Each state will have health insurance exchange where individual and small businesses can purchase health insurance plans. There will be standard qualified health plans available in these exchanges.
Who is excluded from buying insurance?
Following group of people are not required to have health insurance:
- People who would have to pay more than 8% of their income for lowest cost health insurance.
- People with incomes below the threshold required for filing taxes (in 2009, $9,350 for a single person and $26,000 for a married couple with two children),
- Those who qualify for religious exemptions,
- Undocumented immigrants
- People who are incarcerated
- Members of Indian tribes
Where can people buy insurance?
Individuals can get insurance from:
- Employer sponsored plans
- State/federal run health benefit insurance exchanges/marketplace. Go here to see which state will have insurance exchange.
- Buy insurance on their own from insurance companies.
Is there a penalty if I do not have health insurance?
Yes, there are penalties, if you do not have health insurance starting 2014:
- Those without coverage pay a tax penalty of the greater of $695 per year up to a maximum of three times that amount ($2,085) per family or 2.5% of household income.
- The penalty will be phased-in according to the following schedule: $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, and $695 in 2016 for the flat fee or 1.0% of taxable income in 2014, 2.0% of taxable income in 2015, and 2.5% of taxable income in 2016.
- Beginning after 2016, the penalty will be increased annually by the cost-of-living adjustment.
IRS has this nice FAQ on Individual Shared Responsibility Provision, which clears says who needs to have health care insurance, what health care plans are acceptable, how to submit health coverage information as part of tax filing etc.