About four million people in the United States could be fined for failing to buy health insurance when the health overhaul law is fully in force in 2016, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts.
Starting in 2014, individuals must maintain minimum essential coverage or pay a penalty. The penalty will equal the greater of (1) 1 percent of modified adjusted gross income (AGI) or $95 per person in 2014, (2) 2 percent of AGI or $325 per person in 2015, and (3) 2.5 percent of AGI or $695 per person in 2016, indexed for inflation in later years. Minimum essential coverage includes cover under a qualifying or grandfathered insurance company or employer-sponsored plan, government-sponsored program such as Medicare or Medicaid or a state-based exchange. The penalty for dependents under the age of 18 will be capped at 50 percent of the adult individual's penalty. The penalty for each family will be capped at 300 percent of the adult individual's penalty. The maximum penalty will also be capped at an amount equal to the average national premium for exchange coverage.
There are a number of exceptions to the individual mandate, including exceptions for individuals who have income below the tax filing threshold, incur hardships, have religious objections, are not lawfully present in the United States, are incarcerated or are overseas. The new law waives insurance premiums for those with very low incomes as well as some other groups, while subsidies are provided to help poorer people buy coverage.
Most individuals must buy health insurance under the landmark legislation passed by Congress last month, or face fines that will be phased in. By 2016, those without coverage may be fined up to 2.5 percent of their income.
Of the estimated 4 million who will, some 9 percent will be under the poverty line -- $11,800 in annual income for an individual and $24,000 for a family of four, said the CBO, which analyzed expected compliance rates. The U.S. population is about 309 million, according to the Census Bureau. The CBO also forecast the government would collect about $4 billion annually from related penalties between 2017 and 2019.The number predicted to pay tax penalties amount to less than 1.5 percent of the population.
To put the number of uninsured into perspective and to indicate that the deliberately uninsured are neither a real medical tourism target, nor indicate that health care reform can never work- 1.5 % pales into insignificance compared to the latest figures for the number of Americans driving without car insurance- between 15 and 20% - the figures vary by state; this suggests that whatever government does there is going to be a part of the population with a total disregard for any laws.