Despite the hullabaloo about the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that nearly everyone puchase heath insurance in 2014–or pay a penalty–the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 1.4 percent of Americans will wind up paying the tax.
That is because the vast majority of us either have health insurance, or are exempted from the mandate for any one of a number of reasons. For example, at the end of 2014 you will owe no tax if:
- your income is low enough that your share of premiums (after federal subsidies and employer contributions) would total more than 8 percent of your income;
- your income is below the income tax filing threshold, and so you’re not required to file taxes;
- you were uninsured for less than three months of the year (If over three, the penalty is pro-rated);
As a result the Urban Institute estimates that just 6 percent of the population (roughly 18 million Americans) will even have to consider the question: “Should I purchase health insurance, or pay a tax?” That’s right: a whopping 94 percent of the population will have no reason to worry about paying a penalty.
And 11 million of that 18 million will be low-income or middle-income Americans who are eligible for a government subsidy to help cover the cost of their premiums. Chances are, most of them will take the government up on its offer.