Marketplace Individual Mandates - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Marketplace Individual Mandates

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The mandate that requires you have health coverage is one of the most controversial provisions of the Affordable Care Act. But there are exemptions. However, if you're not exempt, there's a price you'll have to pay.

You can choose to stick with your current health care plan, or choose a new one through the Marketplace. But the new policy's requirement is that you must have a minimum essential coverage, whoever it may be through. And if you don't, there will be a tax penalty.

"The penalty that's associated with those individuals who decide not to purchase insurance, if they're not exempted, is phased in over the course of three years," says Monica Lindeen, Montana Insurance Commissioner.

For an individual, the tax penalty is $95 for 2014, or one percent of your income, whichever is greater. For 2015, the penalty is $325, or two percent of your income, whichever is greater. And for 2016, $695 or 2.5 percent of your income, whichever is greater.

For a family, that penalty is up to $285 for 2014, or one percent of your family income, whichever is great. The penalty increases to up to $975 for 2015, or two percent of your family income, whichever is greater. And in 2016, that number is up to $2,085 or 2.5 percent of your family income, whichever is greater.

But there are exemptions. You are exempt from the individual mandate if:

-You have to pay more than 8% of your income for health insurance, after taking into account any employer contributions or tax credits;

-Your family income is below the threshold for filing a tax return;

-You are part of a religion opposed to acceptance of benefits from a health insurance policy or your are a member of a recognized healthcare sharing ministry;

-You are an American Indian, an Alaska Native, or your are married to an American Indian or Alaska Native;

-Your are not a citizen or not lawfully present in the U.S.;

-You are incarcerated.

But if you don't want to pay the penalty and would like an inexpensive option for coverage, Catastrophic Coverage could be an option for you.

"Well the catastrophic plans obviously are cheaper and they're for younger people who don't have a lot of health concerns and make sure they have coverage in case something really bad should happen to them. But overall, they're probably not going to use it except for some preventative needs," says Lindeen.

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