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The subject matter of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) can be complex and confusing for an individual who is familiar with the healthcare system. But for someone who is exploring the health insurance system for the first time, it can be completely bewildering.

The new laws can actually have an effect on a U.S. citizen’s annual federal tax refund. Therefore, it is essential that every individual have access to unbiased information and the ability to understand the Affordable Healthcare Act. We also feel that this information should be provided to the general public for free.

We hope that our network of websites and our free guide helps to make the information and responsibilities imposed on all of us by the ACA a little more understandable and a little less scary and burdensome.

You MUST have health insurance in 2016

’s called the “individual mandate.” Here is how it works: a person with health insurance through a private company will have to provide proof of an active insurance policy on their tax return. This procedure may change, as the reporting process gets more sophisticated. A person with health insurance through Medicaid or their employer will not have to report the policy on their tax return. Presumably this will be the same if the citizen opts for insurance through the state or federal health exchange.

If a citizen meets one of the few exceptions to the Individual Mandate, they will not be taxed for failing to obtain health insurance.

The exceptions are:

  • The citizen meets the standard for having a financial hardship.
  • The citizen is exempt from filing a federal income tax return.
  • The citizen is a Native American who receives health insurance through a different governmental program.
  • The citizen has been without health coverage for three months or less.
  • The citizen is imprisoned.
  • The citizen qualifies for a religious exemption specifically recognized under the Act.
  • The citizen is under the age of 26 years old and is on his or her parent’s policy.
  • The person is an illegal immigrant.

If you do not meet one of the exceptions above, and you have failed to obtain health insurance by Jan. 31, 2016, be prepared to pay up. That’s because there is a cost, and it is one that increases with each year of continued noncompliance.

If you don’t get health insurance, you’ll pay a tax fine

Fine in 2014

The tax for a violation of the Individual Mandate in 2014 was $95.00 or 1 percent of the person’s income up to $285.00, whichever was greater.  

Fine in 2015

The tax for a violation of the Individual Mandate in 2015 was $325.00 or 2 percent of the person’s income up to $975.00, whichever was greater.

Fine in 2016

The tax for a violation of the Individual Mandate in 2016 is $695.00 or 2.5 percent of the person’s income up to $2,085.00, whichever is greater.

Many young people who do not currently have insurance and feel it may be unnecessary because they consider themselves to be healthy, should keep in mind the following information. Waiting until the second or third year of the ACA ended up costing more, when compared to the price of an inexpensive insurance policy that could have been purchased in the first year, when the person was younger. The health insurance industry regards young and healthy individuals as the least likely to have higher insurance costs (or more risk).

Regardless of the year, the best option overall is to simply explore your options. Obtaining a quote now takes very little time, costs nothing and will provide you with the information necessary for you to make the decision that is best for your particular needs.