Explore your options now at eHealthInsurance

Will I be fined if I don’t have health insurance by January 1?

By on December 13th, 2013
Filed: Facts, Health Insurance, Health Reform

Question Mark BoxDoes 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



About Douglas Dalrymple

Doug Dalrymple is a member of the communications team at eHealth, Inc. and has worked in the health insurance and technology industries for fifteen years. He works on communications strategy, content creation and management, project management, and corporate messaging.

6 Comments Add Your Comment

paula jacob on Monday, December 23 @ 4:03 am

This is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever been “forced” to enroll in. Deductibles sky high, cost per month too high even for me who has a poverty level income and a child. Care offered is worse, and coverage cost way to high. What the shit was this president thinking? Not about the people- just to get his name on something before he’s booted out. So angry with all this and everyone I know is too.

debbie on Monday, December 23 @ 2:02 pm

doug my husband lost his job we can barely make it on onemployment but cant get medicade need to sell life ins. policy and a lot more before welfare can help. we cannot afford this ins. so how much is a penalty. this is not fair this America is a communist country by far thanks to idiot Obama

Nate Purpura on Tuesday, January 14 @ 9:45 am

We’re sorry for your difficult situation. Here is a video that explains how the tax penalty works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow4xxmIWMJk

Barbara L on Thursday, January 2 @ 3:03 pm

I have just started a new job and my insurance with the company does not go into effect until after my probation period of 3 months.(April 2014) Will I be penalized because I do not have insurance for that probation period? Cobra is too expensive for me @ $910.00 month!

Nate Purpura on Tuesday, January 14 @ 9:36 am

Hi Barbara, under the law you can go uninsured for three months without being paying a tax penalty and the penalty is pro-rated by the months you’re uninsured. Here is a video on the topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow4xxmIWMJk

Maria on Sunday, January 19 @ 4:07 pm

So, if we don’t have insurance by the probation deadline how much is the fine? How does the president except anyone to afford insurance when the deductibles are extremely high. Especially when you have four children to cover.

By submitting a comment you agree to the comment policy.