Q. What happens if I don’t buy health insurance after 2014?
A. The health reform law includes an individual mandate, requiring every American to have health coverage, with just a few exceptions. It includes a penalty for anyone who does not buy health insurance.
The penalties are phased in: In 2014, the penalty is $95 per uninsured adult (the penalty for uninsured children is always half the adult amount, but in 2014 there’s a $325 cap for a family) or 1 percnet of taxable household income, whichever is greater. In 2015, the penalty is $325 per uninsured adult (family cap of $975) or 2 percent of taxable household income, whichever is greater. And in 2016, the penalty increases to $695 per uninsured adult (family cap of $2,085) or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.
There are some exceptions to the penalty though. You don’t have to pay if:
- you can’t find a premium for a qualified plan through your state health insurance exchange that is less than 8 percent of your adjusted gross income;
- your income is below the tax filing threshold;
- you have a hardship waiver;
- you are not covered for a period of less than three months during the year;
- you have a religious objection;
- you’re a member of a healthcare sharing ministry;
- you’re a member of an Indian Tribe;
- you’re incarcerated; or
- you’re not legally present in the U.S.