By Kristine Bearss
When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law March 23, 2010, a subsequent individual mandate took effect on Jan. 1 of this year for all United States citizens. The individual mandate requires all citizens to purchase health insurance before March 31 of this year.
Failure to do so will result in a tax penalty on citizens’ 2014 income taxes of $95.00 per adult per household, or one percent of taxable income — whichever amount is larger.
Originally, due to mass plan cancellation after the passing of the ACA, the Obama administration passed an exemption for citizens whose plans were cancelled and who were unable to obtain new health insurance. The exemption would extend through the end of 2014.
However, with the increase of citizens who have voiced that they cannot afford mandated premiums, had to cancel their plans due to increased premiums or simply do not want to be forced to purchase insurance, the Obama administration quietly passed an additional type of exemption, which makes it virtually impossible not to get exempted.
The exemption falls under the title of “hardship.”
Previously, citizens had to provide some sort of documentation to validate their hardship. However, since many people do not necessarily have outstanding documents for such evidence — like if they live below the means to purchase insurance, but above the means to qualify for a subsidy — this proved to be a serious problem.
As of now, if citizens are having problems acquiring insurance due to financial constraints, website glitches or other personal concerns, they can apply for the hardship exemption without documented proof.
A form with the citizen’s basic contact information, social security number and a brief description of why he or she is requesting an exemption is all that needs to be completed. Documentation is optional.
This exemption is not permanent. It is only an extension that will last through the 2016 elections. At that point, all Americans, including those whose plans were canceled, will be required to purchase insurance or pay the tax penalty.
To apply for the exemption visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions, and download the free form.