Yes, what you’ve heard is true. Starting in 2014, you could be fined for not having individual health insurance. This individual mandate was implemented under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As a consumer you will be required to purchase a minimum amount of comprehensive coverage.
Experts are estimating that this tax penalty will hit nearly 6 million Americans, mostly in the middle class. This prediction is actually 50 percent higher than what the Congressional Budget Office originally announced in 2010. While the numbers seem high, this is actually only a sliver of the population, as over 150 million people are currently receiving health insurance coverage under an employer based plan. A spokeswoman for the Obama Administration reports that 98 percent of Americans will not be affected by the tax penalty.
The fine for not having health insurance in 2014 will be $95 or 1 percent of your total income- whichever is greater. Then in 2015 the fine increases to $325 or 2 percent of your income. The fine continues to increase each subsequent year, based on a cost of living adjustment.
Of course, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. Individuals who cannot afford coverage, those who earn below the tax filing threshold and those who are deemed to have suffered ‘a hardship with respect to the capability to obtain coverage’ will be exempt from this penalty.
While there is much debate over this mandate, supporters say that it’s necessary to penalize those that do not purchase insurance in order to make health care reform work and be affordable. With an even number of both healthy and unhealthy people enrolled in health plans, rates should balance out and keep from skyrocketing.