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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Affordable Care Act: Your Top 8 Questions Answered

4. What’s the penalty if I don’t get insurance?

The Affordable Care Act says most Americans must purchase insurance or pay a penalty. If you can afford insurance but don’t buy it, you’ll pay a fine when you file your taxes in 2014. In 2014, you will pay $95 for each adult and $47.50 for each child (up to $285 per family), or 1% of your household income, whichever is greater. Penalties go up in 2015.

You won’t have to pay a fine for not having insurance if:

  • The lowest-cost health insurance plan available to you costs more than 8% of your income.
  • Your income is low enough that you’re exempt from having to file taxes.
  • Your income qualifies you for Medicaid coverage but you live in a state not expanding its Medicaid program under the law.
  • You can’t afford coverage because the health insurance a family member is offered at work is too costly and you don’t qualify for a tax subsidy on the Marketplaces.
  • You are of American Indian descent.
  • You are an undocumented immigrant.
  • You are a prisoner.
  • You are a member of certain religious sects exempted from having to buy health insurance.
  • You are an American living abroad for more than 1 year.

5. Where do I sign up?

Go to the web site If you live in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, or Washington, D.C., you’ll find a link to your state’s Marketplace. Those states are operating their own Marketplaces.

If you live in any other state, the federal government is operating the Marketplace, or is operating the Marketplace in partnership with your state. Go to to create an account, explore your options, and buy insurance.

WebMD also has a specialty page for each state that includes information specific to your state and links to state Marketplaces.

You also can sign up in person at special events that will be scheduled in your town or city and at designated community centers, government offices, and health care facilities. You also can sign up by phone. Call 800-318-2596 if you live in a state where the federal government is running the Marketplace.

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