Avoid the Affordable Care Act’s (Rising) Tax Penalty – Be Insured!

A key – and controversial – provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act is the “individual mandate,” which requires that unless you qualify within one of a few, limited exemptions(link is external), you must obtain qualifying health insurance coverage or face paying a fee.  In 2016, that fee is the higher of either a) 2.5% of household income or the total yearly premium for the national average price of a plan rated “Bronze” through the Marketplace, or b) $695 per adult, $347.50 per child under 18, or a maximum of $2,085.  This fee and the way it is calculated has increased substantially from its initial rollout in 2014.  The tax penalty kicks in when you file your federal tax return for the year you don’t have coverage.
Although we at Janssen Malloy LLP are not tax attorneys, this fairly obvious advice comes up in, for example, personal injury cases and can have serious ramifications for people already in stressful situations.  Imagine a car accident in which you were not at fault, but you may be months or even years away from receiving a check from the other driver’s (or in an uninsured or underinsured motorist case, your own) insurance carrier.  Health care, as most all of us know, is expensive, and emergency room care can result for some individuals and families in catastrophically high bills for those without health insurance.  You might find yourself keeping debt collectors at bay until your personal injury case is settled, arbitrated, or tried.  Even then, without health insurance you may be shocked by how much of that recovery will be forced to satisfy health care liens. 
Protect yourself from both the ACA’s increased federal tax penalty and from the added financial pressure of dealing with unexpected health care costs from an event such as a car accident by obtaining health care coverage.  Local insurance agents and Covered California(link is external) can help you navigate the sometimes daunting task of finding a plan you can afford and enrolling you and your family members.  You may even find that you qualify for assistance in covering all or a portion of the cost of that coverage.