Does the Obamacare Deadline Apply to Me?

Barb Wire

By Amy Payne

In two weeks, Obamacare’s centerpiece—the individual mandate to purchase government-approved health insurance—kicks in.

Are you “covered,” as the White House keeps asking in its endless advertising? Because if you don’t have health insurance by March 31, you will have to pay a penalty on your income tax form next year.

For 2014, the penalty for not purchasing insurance will be either $95 or 1 percent of your annual income (whichever is greater). But as Heritage expert Alyene Senger explains, “Very few, if any, people will end up paying just $95, because individuals with an annual income of only $9,500 or less would likely qualify for Medicaid or a hardship exemption from the mandate.”

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If you don’t make enough income to file a federal tax return, you’re already exempt. Do you think you qualify for a hardship exemption? Check out the application (subject to approval by Health and Human Services) here. For example, did you:

  • Receive “a shut-off notice from a utility company”?
  • Recently experience the death of a close family member?
  • Receive a notice that your health plan was being canceled, and “you consider the other plans available unaffordable”?

At the end of the list, the application form has the catch-all reason “You experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance.” To prove it? “Please submit documentation if possible.”

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