The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released the penalty schedule for people who choose to remain uninsured once Obamacare takes effect, revealing a punitive fee schedule that starts with a relatively low dollar amount in 2014 and increases dramatically by the third full year of implementation.
If you’re a single adult who makes less than $10,000 a year, expect to pay $95 for opting out of health care coverage in 2014. If you make more than that and you’re single, you’ll pay one percent of your annual income above the $10,000 filing threshold (the filing threshold bumps up to $20,000 for families.)
In other words, a single person earning $40,000 a year will have to pay a $300 penalty to opt out of coverage. A family with a household income of $40,000 would be penalized $200 in 2014.
In 2015, the number ramps up to a flat $325 – or 2 percent of annual income (whichever is greater). For 2016 and beyond, the penalty will be the greater of $695 or 2.5 percent of annual income.
Those numbers are for single adults. Uninsured children are penalized at half the adult rate.
The penalties have an annual maximum. They can’t exceed the National average premium that people will be paying to receive the so-called “bronze” (i.e., cheapest) coverage plan offered by State-run insurance exchanges. The catch is that even the bronze level of coverage is expected to grow more expensive, with annual premiums forecast to reach $5,000 for individual plans by 2016.
There are exemptions from the penalties. But unless you’re an illegal alien, an American Indian or earn so little that you don’t have to file a tax return, you’re likely out of luck.
Unless, that is, you live in one of the States with a Republican Governor who’s pledged not to expand the Medicaid program as the Affordable Care Act prescribes. Ironically, poor people in the holdout States will be exempt.