Who is exempt from the individual mandate?
While many Americans who aren’t insured by 2014 will have to pay a fee, some may be exempt from the inidividual mandate's penalty under certain circumstances.
Under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, most Americans are required to have health care by Jan. 1, or they will have to pay a fee that increases every year: from 1 percent of income (or $95 per adult, whichever is higher) to 2.5 percent of income (or $695 per adult) in 2016.
Those who can’t afford coverage (i.e. the plans costs more than 8 percent of their household income), are uninsured for less than three months of the year, or don’t have to file a tax return because their income is too low may find they are excused from the individual mandate. For more exemption circumstances, check healthcare.gov.
In addition to a regular exemption, there is a “hardship exemption,” for which one could be excused from the fee - even if they don’t meet any of the qualifications. If someone was homeless, evicted in the past six months, or recently experienced the death of a close family member, then he or she might qualify for a hardship exemption. There are a dozen hardship exemption qualifications listed on the federal exchange site.
Do you currently have health insurance?
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In most cases you’ll have to apply for an exemption on your 2014 federal tax return or on the Health Insurance Marketplace. The only circumstances for which you won’t need to apply is if your income is low enough that you won’t be required to file taxes, if you have a gap in coverage of less than three months, or are not lawfully present in the U.S.
Enrollment for the new healthcare insurance exchanges opened Oct. 1, although many users couldn’t access the website on the first day due to heavy traffic. Consumers will have until Dec. 15 to enroll for the coverage beginning Jan. 1.