If I currently don't have health insurance will I have to buy a plan? If I do not what will the penalties be?

  • @chad Your right there can be many questions created from this topic, I decided to put it up because I wanted to create a quick answer for what could be a common problem that people might face. Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 16:26
  • I reworded the question to bring the scope more in line with what I think you meant to ask. This new scope should remove the need to proselytize over the good or bad of the ACA.
    – user4127
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 18:15
  • Shhhh! It is not a penalty but a tax that you have to pay if you don't buy health insurance and don't fall under one of the exceptions (too poor, too religious, etc.) Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


Starting in 2014, most people will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty if they don't. Coverage may include employer-provided insurance, coverage someone buys on their own, or Medicaid.

Several groups are exempt from the requirement to obtain coverage or pay the penalty, including: people who would have to pay more than 8% of their income for health insurance, people with incomes below the threshold required for filing taxes (in 2009, $9,350 for a single person and $26,000 for a married couple with two children), those who qualify for religious exemptions, undocumented immigrants, people who are incarcerated, and members of Indian tribes.

The penalty for people who forego insurance is the greatest of two amounts: a specified percentage of income or a specified dollar amount. The percentages of income are phased in over time at

  • 1% in 2014.
  • 2% in 2015.
  • 2.5% starting in 2016.

The dollar amounts are also phased in at

  • $95 in 2014.
  • $325 in 2015.
  • $695 beginning in 2016. (with annual increases after that).

The total penalty for the taxable year will not exceed the national average of the annual premiums of a bronze level health insurance plan offered through the health insurance Exchanges. Health insurance plans will provide documents to people they insure that will be used to prove that they have the minimum coverage required by law.

The full law can be read here - Full Text of the Affordable Care Act

  • It should be noted that the above given numbers are for individuals. They are much higher for a family.
    – Dunk
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 22:24

The key thing is that over the next 2 years many changes will take place in the health care landscape in the US.

Companies will decide if it is better for them to continue to offer health insurance for their employees or make them go through the exchanges.

Many people will start to understand that when they factor in what their company contributes for health insurance the cost of health insurance easily goes over 8% of their income. Especially when they factor in the dental and vision plans.

The number of choices for medical plans could increase, or it could decrease. Nobody knows. Many have opinions, but nobody knows.

Will you have to buy a plan? It depends on the definition of buy. If your company did offer you insurance and they change your options, you will have to wade through the sea of choices to pick a new plan. If your employer decides to drop coverage, you will have to use the state exchanges.

The impact on Health Savings accounts is unclear. But if you have one, you may have to purchase a new type of plan. Any guess on what happens to the money in your current account?

If you don't purchase a plan, there will be penalties. There are even penalties on companies that should offer insurance but don't. It remains to be seen if these penalties drive the result that the law intended. People drive cars without insurance, even in states that require it. People get jobs even when they don't have the proper paperwork.

  • A (I hope non-political) comment - Part of the expense in the system is for those with no insurance still getting taken care of when they have an emergency. In theory, if everyone had coverage, there would be no expense for 'uncovered' care, and the overall cost would go down as the risk of the guy who breaks his leg and gets help, but with no insurance also drops. The uninsured include both those who can't afford insurance, and those who are healthy and think they don't need it. Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 19:04
  • 2
    This is an Economics answer not a PF answer. There is no way to address this part of the policy with out getting political. Especially since this is forcasting expectations, not reviewing how it is implemented in practice.
    – user4127
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 19:43

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