individual mandate penalties feature

Individual mandate requires Americans to buy health insurance by March 31

March 25, 2014 Ryan Schuster

Have you heard of the individual mandate?

The individual mandate is a requirement in the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) that requires most Americans to have qualifying health coverage in 2014.

If you're like an estimated 80 percent of Americans, you already receive health insurance coverage through your job, your spouse's job, Medicare or Medicaid, and you don't need to do anything. But if you're uninsured, you will likely need to purchase health insurance by March 31, 2014 to avoid paying a tax penalty to the government.

Some are exempt from the mandate, such as those who do not make enough money to be required to file a tax return and some American Indians.

The tax penalty for not having qualifying coverage in 2014 is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, or 1 percent of annual taxable income, whichever is greater. The amount of tax penalties for not having qualifying insurance will increase in future years. During the 2015 tax season, the Internal Revenue Service will begin asking taxpayers to provide proof of insurance coverage when filing their 2014 income tax returns. Those who are unable to provide proof of insurance will be assessed the tax penalty.

If you would like to purchase insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota to avoid being hit by the individual mandate tax penalty, you can search, select and apply for plans at www.BCBSND.com/shop or by calling 1-800-280-BLUE (2583) by March 31. You can also use our handy tax credit calculator to see if you qualify for a federal tax credit to help pay for your insurance. If you qualify for the tax credit, you will need to purchase a plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov. Either way, you can start at www.BCBSND.com/shop.

After the current open enrollment period ends on March 31, BCBSND individual and family plans will not be available for purchase until the next open enrollment period begins on November 15, 2014, unless you experience a qualifying life event. Plans purchased during the next open enrollment period will receive coverage that takes effect in 2015.

More information about health reform is available at ItStartsWithBlueND.com. You can also find out more about health reform law basics and get the latest health reform news on our website.