In 2019, you can have whatever health insurance you want without facing a penalty.
One of the biggest changes that the Affordable Care Act brought with it was the health insurance penalty. This penalty changed by year and was part of the healthcare law that people were most likely to find confusing. As rules around the ACA have continued to be challenged and to change, many people are unsure of the penalty for not having health insurance in 2019. Learning whether you would be subject to a penalty and what that penalty would be can help you make the best health insurance choices for the coming year.
There is no federal health insurance penalty in 2019.
In past years, a penalty was assessed for every month that individuals went without health insurance coverage. The amount of the penalty increased by year. Penalties, for instance, were higher for people with higher incomes. The penalty was also higher for leaving minors uninsured than it was for adults.
There have been a number of changes in how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) works.
In a tax bill passed by Congress in 2017, the individual mandate that prescribed a health insurance penalty was eliminated. The new law goes into effect for 2019.
What this means for individuals is that the health insurance penalty is no longer to purchase an ACA-compliant health care plan. Many people think that this just means going without insurance. However, this also makes it possible for people to choose other kinds of health insurance policies that may not have satisfied previous requirements. For a plan to comply with ACA requirements, it must provide certain minimum essential coverages. People who would like to avoid these coverages but still have insurance can choose other types of plans without having to pay a penalty. For instance, some people may wish to choose a catastrophic plan that will cover large expenses, but not cover preventative care. Still others may choose to skip coverages that they do not feel that they will need, such as mental health coverage or maternity care.
State-level health insurance penalties still may be in effect.
While there will not be penalties at the federal level anymore for going uninsured or choosing a plan that is not ACA-compliant, it is still important to look at state requirements for health insurance. A large handful of states have their own health insurance penalties that are assessed when people do not have insurance that complies with that state’s laws.
Some places where a health insurance penalty is still assessed:
- New Jersey. This state has a health insurance penalty that will go into effect in 2019. The health insurance penalty is based on New Jersey’s prices for bronze level health insurance policies.
- Massachusetts has had a health insurance penalty since instituting a state health insurance program in 2006. In the past, they did not assess a health insurance penalty if someone paid one at the federal level. However, with the elimination of the federal health insurance penalty, they will begin charging a state fee.
- Vermont has instituted a health insurance penalty for uninsured individuals in that state. The health insurance penalty law goes into effect in 2020.
- District of Columbia. This city has signed their own health insurance penalty into law. It goes into effect in 2019.
It remains to be seen whether other states will add their own health insurance penalty laws. Keep abreast of changes in your state to make sure that you are not surprised by a health insurance penalty at that level despite no longer owing one at the federal level.
Making the best health insurance choices for you.
Even though there is no longer a health insurance penalty for most people, health insurance can still be a worthwhile investment. Depending on your personal health, your financial situation and where you live, you may be able to save money and more easily access needed medical care by purchasing either a marketplace or individual insurance policy. eHealth offers a range of plans to help you choose exactly the coverage you need.