May 20, 2013
Among America's biggest health care challenges is the number of people without health insurance. In 2011, 49 million Americans were uninsured. The U.S. Census Bureau figures this is 16% of everyone in the country.
Under the new health care law known as the Affordable Care Act, steps were taken to make sure all U.S. citizens and legal residents have coverage to help them stay healthy and get better when they're sick or hurt.
The "individual mandate" is one is one of those steps. It requires nearly everyone to have health insurance starting January 1, 2014.
Starting in October 2013, you'll see new online shopping sites going live. These websites are called health insurance exchanges (or health insurance marketplaces) and are being created to make comparing and buying health insurance easier, cheaper, and more convenient.
And because health plans will cover everyone, all Americans will be able to find coverage through these exchanges — even sick people who sometimes couldn't be insured before the health care law.
You'll probably meet the individual mandate requirement without doing anything if you:
If you're uninsured right now and not exempt from the individual mandate, you'll need to get insurance.
When you file your federal tax return each year, you'll be asked to for proof of health insurance. If you don't have coverage, you'll pay a penalty that increases every year. For 2014 the penalty will be $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is higher.
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