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Some exempt from health insurance requirement

Apr 30, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

There is big concern about people having to pay a fine if they choose not to have health insurance, but when the Affordable Care Act health reform law takes full effect in 2014, the Urban Institute, a non-partisan thinktank based in Washington, D.C., reports that only a small percentage of Americans will have to pay for opting out of health coverage. The institute analyzes and investigates U.S. social and economic problems and issues.

The Congressional Budget Office's website states that it and the Joint Committee on Taxation "have estimated that about 30 million non-elderly residents will be uninsured in 2016, but the majority of them will not be subject to the penalty tax."

Americans will have to declare on their income tax return where they get their health insurance because the penalty would come as a tax.

Those who fall under the exemptions include unauthorized immigrants, others whose income is too low to file an income tax return, members of Indian tribes or if the premium a person is required to pay would be greater than his income.

The CBO estimates roughly 19 million people will fall under these exemptions. Changes in the ACA will also make it easier for Americans to obtain health coverage if they struggle financially or they're already sick, thus exempting the remaining part of Americans from this penalty.

The number of uninsured Americans also will vary in each state depending on whether the state decides to expand or not expand their Medicaid program. The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling said that states are now allowed to make that decision for themselves.

The Wyoming Senate recently voted 22-8 against Senate File 122, which would extend Wyoming's Medicaid program.

For states that approve the expansion, the federal government will pay all the costs for three years for new enrollees. The costs would partially be paid by the state after that. Wyoming was expected to extend Medicaid coverage to about 28,000 more low income and medically needy people, as well as save an estimated $47 million in a span of six years.

Those opposed to the bill don't think the government will uphold those promises, and they prefer to wait and see how the rest of the country does.

Under the reformed law, small businesses also may qualify for Tax Credits if they enroll their employees in private health care plans.

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