The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, more popularly referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010 and was a significant step toward mandating and standardising the availability of health insurance at the federal level. In addition, the legislation required that virtually all citizens of the United States obtain health insurance; however, in 2017, Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty. Only residents of California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Vermont, along with residents of the District of Columbia, will be required to demonstrate annually that they are covered by some form of health insurance when filing their state taxes after the year 2022.
If you do not have health insurance and do not meet the requirements for an exemption, you will be required to pay a tax penalty that is established by the state (except Vermont, which does not levy any fees). You will not be subject to financial penalties from the federal government if you do not have health insurance. On the other hand, only a few states have individual mandates that make it mandatory for citizens to carry health insurance. When the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act was enacted into law, one of the most important pieces of legislation was the individual shared responsibility clause, which is more commonly referred to as the individual mandate. This clause represented the furthest that the United States government ever got toward mandating that all citizens have health insurance.
The individual mandate refers to what exactly?
Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, the “individual mandate” stipulated that all qualified citizens and permanent residents of the United States must maintain a certain level of health insurance coverage (also referred to as minimum essential coverage, or MEC).
Individuals who did not have coverage were liable to tax fines from the IRS beginning in 2014 and continuing until 2019. Depending on which sum was larger, the total cost of these federal fines came to either $695 for each adult who lacked health insurance or 2.5% of their income. In 2017, the required financial penalties were eliminated at the federal level by congressional action.
Although legally speaking, people are still required to have health insurance, there are no longer any penalties for those who do not have coverage if they do not have it. The individual requirement is no longer applicable as a result of this new legislation which went into force in 2019. As a direct response to this, a small number of states passed legislation that contained tax penalties in their own versions of the individual mandate. The regulations differ from state to state, but all of them—with the exception of Vermont—impose a penalty on uninsured individuals who pay their taxes.
The only jurisdictions in which individuals are required to have health insurance are:
- District of Columbia
- The state of New Jersey
- Rhode Island
Because the requirements for qualifying plans, exemptions, and penalties vary from state to state, it is essential that you familiarise yourself with the specifics of the system in your own state. In general, the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for Minimum Essential Coverage must be satisfied by any plan in order for it to be considered eligible. If you were uninsured for a period of little than a few months, you may not be subject to any penalties. For instance, in the state of California, you are not liable for a penalty if you were uninsured for a period of fewer than three months in a given year. A number of additional states, including Connecticut, Hawaii, and Washington, are contemplating the implementation of healthcare requirements.