Opting Out Of Obamacare: Need To Know

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So what if you don’t want to have anything to do with the government-managed insurance being sold under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? Or what if you simply don’t even know how to tell whether you’re a candidate to enroll in insurance under the Obamacare exchanges, or whether you’d be eligible for an entitlement (er, subsidy) if you do?

There are exemptions that, under the law, prevent you from having to enroll:

Having your own insurance policy either through an employer or direct coverage is one; Medicare/Medicaid is another. Veterans Healthcare, children’s State-funded programs and others also exempt you from having to either buy a policy or pay a penalty.

But those are exemptions for people who already are covered. What if you just want to opt out and claim an exemption that prevents you from having to pay the penalty? Well, there are a number of ways (H/T: The Christian Science Monitor for the compilation):

  • Being without insurance for less than three months of the year.
  • Being an illegal alien.
  • Being in jail.
  • Being a member of a recognized Indian tribe.
  • Being too poor, as determined by your tax filing (or your eligibility not to file).
  • Being unable to acquire coverage that’s more than 8 percent of your household income (though, if early anecdotal reports are true, that would seem to include a very great number of people).
  • Being a member of a “recognized” religious group that objects to insurance coverage in principle. An entire article could be written about what a joke it is to have the government validate your religious beliefs with a “recognition,” but that’s the law as it stands.

There are also a number of hardship exemptions at the healthcare.gov exemptions page.

If you don’t meet one of these qualifications and you don’t have outside insurance, expect to pay a penalty that starts relatively small (as “little” as $95 per person in 2014) and increases in succeeding years ($695 per person by 2016).

The penalty will be determined based on new healthcare information you’re required to submit to the government on your 2014 Federal tax form. You’ll then either have to submit the penalty as a part of your tax payment or, if you’re in line for a sufficiently sizable return, it will simply be deducted from the amount the government “owes” you.

Despite all the early “glitches,” the open Obamacare signup period for 2014 remains fixed, with a cutoff date of March 1, 2014.

In other words, you have until March 1 of next year to figure out the least-costly path through this new era of socialized health coverage — or hope Congressional conservatives figure out a way to derail the whole mess.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.