Not Planning to Buy Health Insurance? Here’s What’s Going to Happen to You

Photo (cc) by andrewasmith

It may seem like a clever idea to save yourself cash by not purchasing health insurance, but with Obamacare kicking in, you’ll have penalties to pay, which could cost you big bucks in the long run.

Not only are you playing financial Russian roulette – you could be forking out tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars if you’re injured in an accident or become seriously ill – you’ll also have to pay a penalty to the federal government for flouting the law, costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars more.

A wiser decision if you’re uninsured is to start shopping on your state health exchange, which opened Tuesday — with glitches — as a key part of health care reform.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has information in the video below about the penalties you’ll face if you ignore the law. Check it out, then continue reading for more details about health reform.

It’s OK if you feel at a loss about the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as Obamacare. You’re not alone. A newly released survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that only 4 in 10 adults were aware of the health exchanges and the financial subsidies available to help cover costs when you buy insurance there, and only one-third of those without insurance were aware of the new way to shop for health insurance.

In the first quarter of the year, 46 million Americans didn’t have health insurance, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The establishment of the state health exchanges, or insurance marketplaces, is designed to reduce the number of uninsured.

Who needs insurance?

Starting next year, almost everyone will need to be insured. You can purchase that insurance on your own or through the exchange, have it through your employer, or have it provided by government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, TRICARE and veterans health insurance programs.

There are some limited exceptions, such as for those who earn a very low income or are members of certain religious groups, as shown in this graphic by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

While you can start shopping for insurance on a state exchange now, the policies don’t take effect until Jan. 1.

What if I don’t buy insurance?

If you skip the insurance, you’ll pay a penalty. For 2014 the fine is $95 for an individual or 1 percent of your income, whichever is greater, along with $47.50 per uninsured child, maxing out at $285 for the year.

But by 2016, an individual would pay $695 or 2.5 percent of your income.

The TurboTax website has a calculator to help you determine how high a penalty you’d pay.

Without insurance, you’d also face a double whammy. By 2016 you’d be forking over almost $700 to the federal government and having nothing to show for it, and still have to pay your own medical bills if you’re injured or become ill.

What will insurance cost?

The exchanges will sell four levels of policies — platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Bronze plans will have the lowest premiums, but cover only 60 percent of costs. Platinum, on the other hand, will have the highest premiums, but cover 90 percent of costs.

If you earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual and $94,200 for a family of four this year) you’ll be eligible for a subsidy, which will come in the form of a tax credit. Subsidies are based on your family size and your earnings. The less you earn, the higher the subsidy.

With the subsidies, more than half of Americans should be able to find health insurance for less than $100 a month, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, although you might choose to pay more.

There also will be caps on out-of-pocket costs. Typically, the maximum an individual will pay in co-payments and deductibles next year is $6,350, and a family’s costs will be capped at $12,700.

What if you delay?

Because you can’t be turned down for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you have a pre-existing condition, you might be tempted to dawdle and see if you actually get sick before purchasing insurance.

But that strategy could easily backfire.

You’ll only be able to buy insurance on your state health exchange through March 31, 2014. After that, the open enrollment period will run from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

There are exceptions that allow you to purchase insurance on the exchange at any time of the year if you experience a life-changing event, such as moving to a new state, getting married, getting divorced, or having a baby.

While you can purchase insurance outside the exchange at any time, you won’t be eligible for a government subsidy, which is one of the cornerstones of health reform.

Bottom line: Ponying up for health insurance now can potentially save you from astronomical costs down the road.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security

Growing numbers of seniors are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits, but you might be able to avoid this fate.

7 Reasons to Carry Mortgage Debt Into Retirement
7 Reasons to Carry Mortgage Debt Into Retirement

It often makes financial sense to not pay off your mortgage before retiring.

5 Reasons You Should Retire Sooner, Not Later
5 Reasons You Should Retire Sooner, Not Later

Waiting until age 70 to retire isn’t for everyone. Could you be waiting too long?

8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will
8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will

Here’s why the last decades of life are harder now than they used to be.

9 Foods You Should Never Buy Again
9 Foods You Should Never Buy Again

Make the wrong food choices, and you can ruin your health — and possibly shorten your life.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card
Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash
8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash

Sometimes, the humblest household items are worth the most money.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It
15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.