What if I don’t buy health insurance in 2014?

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    Question: I still don’t want insurance. What happens if I refuse to buy it? Answer: In 2014, you’ll pay a penalty of $95 for uninsured adults and $47.50 for uninsured children, or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater.

    Got questions about the Affordable Care Act? In a regular feature, the WHYY/NewsWorks Health and Science Desk is providing “The Short Answer.”

    Today’s question

    I still don’t want insurance. What happens if I refuse to buy it?

    The short answer

    In 2014, you’ll pay a penalty of $95 for uninsured adults and $47.50 for uninsured children, or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater. That means if you make $50,000 a year, your fine will be $500. You will pay the penalty along with your 2014 taxes, due in April of 2015.

    More details

    That penalty starts small, but it goes up. In 2016 if you still don’t have insurance coverage, you will pay $695 for adults and $347.50 for children, or 2.5 percent of family income. For the same family making $50,000 a year, that would be a $1,250 fee.

    The penalty will increase with cost of living after 2016. If you don’t want insurance for religious reasons, if your income is below the threshold for filing an income tax return, or if the insurance costs more than 8 percent of your income — even after tax credits and employer subsidies, you are exempt from the penalty.

    The Kaiser Family Foundation has a handy flow chart on insurance penalty policies.

    The 2010 health law goes into full effect Jan. 1, 2014. How will it affect you, your wallet and your health? Email your questions to healthandscience@whyy.org or tweet us @newsworksWHYY.

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