Q. How do I satisfy the mandate?
A. Health coverage provided through a job-based plan (including COBRA or a retirement plan), policies that you bought for yourself or your family, Medicare (and Medicare Advantage), Medicaid, CHIP, some Veterans Administration health programs or TRICARE coverage for members of the military and their dependents will satisfy the mandate.
If you are uninsured or thinking about switching plans, you can shop for coverage through the online marketplaces beginning Oct. 1. These marketplaces will operate in every state and the District of Columbia and will alert people with lower incomes that they are eligible for Medicaid. The marketplaces will also offer tax subsidies to help reduce the cost of premiums if your income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual and $94,200 for a family of four in 2013) and cost-sharing subsidies that will substantially reduce the deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and total out-of-pocket spending limits for people with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($28,725 for an individual and $58,875 for a family of four in 2013).
Although the law takes effect Jan. 1, the initial enrollment period continues through March 31. Since people are exempted for a short coverage gap – less than three months – individuals that obtain coverage before the end of March will be exempt from the payment for that period.
Q. How do I report my coverage or exemptions to the government?
A. You will not have to report your coverage or exemptions until you file your 2014 income tax return, which won't be due until April 15, 2015. Insurance providers will also be required to help their clients report their health coverage. The Internal Revenue Service says it will put out details later about how the reporting will work.
If your income is so low that you do not file a tax return, you are exempt from paying the penalty.
Q. What happens if I don't get coverage?
A. If you do not have the minimum level of coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you must pay a penalty to the IRS at the end of the tax year. The penalty for the first year is up to $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater.
Fri, Aug 30 2013