The goal of The Affordable Care Act, most often referred to as “Obamacare,” is to provide access to affordable health care coverage to everyone in the United States. The reason for this is that as of 2014, everyone is required to have some form of health insurance, which can be provided through individual plans, employer-sponsored plans, or government programs. The repercussion of not having an insurance plan is a monetary penalty. As of 2015, this penalty is $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, or 2 percent of your household income, whichever is greater, with a family maximum of $975. Questions on your tax return will help determine if you are required to pay the penalty, are eligible for a government subsidy, or are exempt from coverage.
If you are not able to obtain health insurance through your employer, you will need to purchase health insurance individually from an insurance provider. To assist with this, the government has established an online exchange called the Health Insurance Marketplace. This marketplace serves to aggregate all of an individual’s health insurance options into one site to simplify the comparison shopping for the purchaser. While you are not required to use the marketplace, you may be eligible for tax credits or assistance from the government if you use it.
The period of time you can sign up for health insurance through any source as known as the Open Enrollment period. This time can vary from state to state or employer to employer, but is typically in October or November with the idea that the plan you sign up for will begin January 1st of the following year. Please note that if you feel you cannot afford to buy health insurance on your own, you could qualify for government subsidies.