Will I be fined if I don’t have health insurance by January 1?
Does the Affordable Care Act say that you will have to pay a tax penalty on New Year’s Day if you don’t have health insurance?
This is probably one of the most common consumer health insurance questions today. Don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t know the answer. A lot of health reform dates and “deadlines” get thrown around in the media these days.
For example, there’s:
- October 1 (the day when nationwide open enrollment started)
- December 15 (the original date you had to enroll in a plan if you wanted coverage to start on January 1, 2014)*
- December 23 (the revised date you have to enroll by if you want coverage to start January, 2014)*
- January 1, 2014 itself (the date when the last big provision of Obamacare go into effect
- March 31, 2014 (the last date of open nationwide open enrollment for 2014)
You’re perfectly justified in being confused. Recently on Yahoo Answers we took a question from an unemployed college student living with his parents who wanted clarity on the January 1 date.
If he’s still uninsured then, will he have to pay a fine?
The eHealth reply was voted Best Answer:
In 2014, most Americans will be required to have health insurance. Those without employer-based coverage (or Medicare or Medicaid) may be required to purchase it on their own. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for subsidies to help you afford it – you may even be able to enroll in Medicaid in 2014. You should explore those options through the government exchange in your state or through a licensed health insurance agent.
However, you should also know that only people who earn enough money to be required to submit a federal tax return for the 2014 tax year are potentially subject to a tax penalty for not having health coverage. And even if you are required to have coverage next year, you must go uninsured for more than three consecutive months in order to trigger the penalty. You won’t automatically be penalized for not having coverage on January 1, 2014.
* For most states.
Image by Flickr user Raymond Bryson