insurance

2014 brings Obamacare savings and sanctions

Mandatory health insurance
Mandatory health insurance © Olga Danylenko/Shutterstock.com

Under health reform's "individual mandate," most Americans who don't have health coverage by March 31 will be assessed a penalty against their federal income tax for 2014.

The uninsured will be penalized the greater of 1 percent of their annual household income or the oft-cited $95 per person (and $47.50 per child under 18), to a family cap of $285.

Those per-person penalties jump to the greater of 2 percent of income or $325 in 2015, and the greater of 2.5 percent of income or $695 by 2016.

Morrisey says the uninsured middle class is more likely to feel the sting of the individual mandate than lower income groups.

"At $95 a year, the penalty is no big deal," he says. "But at 2.5 percent of income in 2016, if you're making $60,000 a year, the penalty is more than $100 a month. That's money that could be going toward insurance."

Douglas Hough, associate director of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, says the mandate's aim of herding everyone into the insurance pool is long overdue.

"It truly is revolutionary," he says.

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