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The health law is real. What happens if I don't buy health insurance?

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2013 was the year congressional Republicans did everything in their power to stop the health reform law from becoming a reality, with an unintended helping hand from the White House's botched launch of its health plan enrollment website, Healthcare.gov. Now GOP leaders acknowledge "Obamacare is a reality," as more than one million people signed up by Christmas Eve for health coverage that began Jan. 1. But that also means millions didn't sign up and have questions. For many, "Do I have to?" tops the list.

As a general rule, the answer is yes. You have until March 31 to enroll in health insurance before you are subject to the law’s tax penalty for not having coverage, our partners at KHN confirm. 

For individuals, the penalty would start at $95 or up to 1 percent of income, whichever is greater, and rise to $695, or 2.5 percent of income, by 2016.

For families this year the penalty is $285 or 1 percent of income. That will grow in 2016 to $2,085 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

But the requirement to have coverage can be waived for several reasons, including financial hardship or religious beliefs.

Not only that, last month the administration decided to waive the individual mandate penalty for 2014 for some people in the individual insurance market whose plans were being canceled.  Under the law’s “hardship exemption,” these consumers are also eligible to buy “catastrophic” coverage policies, which have lower premiums and higher deductibles than other plans that comply with the law. 

At least 4.7 million Americans received the cancellation notices, over 300,000 of them in Florida, the Associated Press reports

 

 

 

 

 

 Under the law, will I have to buy it and what happens if I don’t?

You have until March 31 to enroll in health insurance before you are subject to the law’s tax penalty for not having coverage. For individuals, the penalty would start at $95 or up to 1 percent of income, whichever is greater, and rise to $695, or 2.5 percent of income, by 2016. For families this year the penalty is $285 or 1 percent of income. That will grow in 2016 to $2,085 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater. The requirement to have coverage can be waived for several reasons, including financial hardship or religious beliefs.

Last month the administration decided to waive the individual mandate penalty for 2014 for some people in the individual insurance market whose plans were being canceled.  Under the law’s “hardship exemption,” these consumers are also eligible to buy “catastrophic” coverage policies, which have lower premiums and higher deductibles than other plans that comply with the law.

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