Jeffrey Young -huffingtonpost.com
The big Obamacare deadline looming on March 31 isn’t just the last chance for most Americans to buy health insurance this year. It’s also the last chance to avoid paying penalties under the Affordable Care Act’s dreaded “individual mandate.”
The individual mandate is one of the best-known but least-understood parts of President Barack Obama’s signature health-care reform law. Here’s how the mandate works, how much it costs to ignore the rule, and how you may be able to get out of it.
Who must have health insurance under Obamacare?
Practically everybody. But most Americans won’t have to do anything on March 31. That’s because about 80 percent of Americans already have health coverage — through their jobs, a government program like Medicare or Medicaid, or directly from an insurance company. The small percentage of Americans who aren’t insured risk having to pay a penalty under Obamacare. The complicated official name for this is the “individual shared responsibility payment.” The IRS has more information, in case you thirst for still more complicated official language.
Who is exempt?
Many people are exempt from the mandate. Undocumented immigrants don’t have to comply because they’re not even allowed to use Obamacare’s new insurance exchanges to buy coverage. Many Native Americans also don’t have to comply, nor do those whose religious beliefs reject health insurance, people who don’t make enough money to file federal income taxes, and people who can’t find a health plan that costs less than 8 percent of their incomes. There’s a full list here.