On Wednesday the American government released details on how to implement the “individual mandate” provision in healthcare legislation that was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March of 2010. Starting in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will require that the majority of individuals get healthcare insurance or pay a fine to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
As with most of the healthcare law, the regulations regarding the individual mandate are complex and convoluted, with many provisional aspects still in the works. However, new guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the IRS has nothing to do with providing universal, quality, and affordable healthcare to U.S. individuals and families.
HHS said that the mandate penalty, in its fact sheet, applies to only the limited group of taxpayers who want to spend a long amount of time going without coverage although they already have access to affordable coverage. Those going without healthcare coverage will be penalized $95 next year, increasing to $695 by 2016, unless they qualify for an exemption. The Congressional Budget Office projects that fewer than 2 % of the nation will be forced to make a payment under the mandate.
The new healthcare guidelines focus on the fact that a broad range of exemptions are available for individuals who can’t afford coverage or choose not to buy it. What the officials in the White House are not emphasizing is that those individuals who qualify for exemptions might not have to pay a penalty —however, they won’t have healthcare coverage. The CBO projects that in 2016, about one in nine, – or 30 million people – will not be insured and 6 million of them will have to pay penalties.