Do you have to have health insurance?


Quick Answer

As of 2014, the Affordable Care Act mandates that most Americans must have health care or they are likely to be fined. Some exemptions are available based on low income, periods of unemployment and several other situations.

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Full Answer

Americans are required to have health coverage that meets standards of minimum essential coverage. Any employer plan meets these requirements, as do retiree health plans, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, veteran's health programs, individual insurance plans and Peace Corps volunteer plans. People who do not have one of these plans can meet the requirement by purchasing insurance through the health insurance marketplace.

Americans who do not have insurance by the end of 2014 are subject to a fee. The fee increases with each subsequent calendar year, and is withheld from any future tax returns. There are certain exemptions, however. If the lowest-priced coverage available would cost more than 8 percent of the total household income, or if an individual makes too little to be required to file a tax return, insurance does not have to be purchased. Other exemptions are for members of federally recognized tribes, members of a recognized health-care-sharing ministry, members of a recognized religious sect with religious objections to insurance, individuals who are incarcerated and illegal aliens. Hardship exemptions are also available for certain situations, such as being homeless or recently filing for bankruptcy.

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