Those opting out of health coverage under the Affordable Care Act will face significant tax penalties this year. While last year's minimum tax was around $325 and 2 percent for wealthier families, Tom Howell Jr. wrote at The Washington Times that the minimum penalty this year will be around $695 with the average around $969. Those families whose income exceed the filing threshold will have to pay a 2.5 percent tax on their income.
The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a study that shows this is a 46 percent increase from 2015. Though the penalty was previously not highlighted in the Obama administration's aim to promote the ACA, now these officials are using the tax to urge the uninsured to sign up.
"The rise in penalty has been integral to our messaging and that of our partners throughout this enrollment season," Maura Collinsgru, program director at New Jersey Citizen Action, an organization that supports the ACA, said. "While we can't say if the penalty is the cause, we do know that enrollment activity is up in New Jersey over last year."
"400,000 Californians are at risk for paying this hefty tax for the 2016 tax year."
For example, Covered California, the state's insurance exchange, reported that an estimated 400,000 Californians are at risk for paying this hefty tax for the 2016 tax year. Of this number, around 78 percent of those uninsured will have to pay the penalty, while the other percent can apply for exemption.
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee spoke about the tax changes in a recent teleconference. Lee noted that the agency wants citizens to know the differences between healthcare and taxes, citing that the greatest risk for the uninsured is not the tax, but monumental medical debts.
"An emergency room bill for a back injury requiring an MRI could be $12,000," Ken Carlson at The Modesto Bee reports. "The cost can be $35,000 for an uninsured person who needs surgery for a broken bone, or thousands of dollars a day for a person treated for illness in a hospital bed."
Though not all the uninsured will pay these penalties, Claudia Buck at The Sacramento Bee wrote, such as those whose healthcare premiums are declared unaffordable, along with "those with certain economic hardships or religious objections."
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