The Affordable Care Act mandates that Americans have health insurance coverage in place this year or pay a fine of up to 1 percent of their income, but the vast majority of those flouting the law will be off the hook because of a range of exemptions granted by the Obama administration.
An estimated 87 percent of the 30 million people without insurance will be able to avoid the individual mandate tax, according to Roll Call, because the Congressional Budget Office estimates that just 4 million people will be forced to pay as a result of exemptions.
The individual mandate was considered to be the heart of the new healthcare law in order to motivate people to sign up for coverage, particularly those who might otherwise wait until they are sick. The alternative scenario would drive up premiums and undermine Obamacare’s mission of achieving affordable healthcare.
The CBO initially projected that 6 million people would pay the penalty, but reduced that figure after taking into account the exemptions.
The government is therefore expected to generate $4 billion in revenue in 2016, according to the CBO.
The exemptions apply to people whose plans were canceled, illegal immigrants, and people with incomes below the minimum threshold for filing a tax return.
There is also a lengthy list of “hardship” exemptions, including home foreclosure, bankruptcy, homelessness, death of a close family member, those who have received a cut-off notice from a utility company, people who have had a fire or other serious disaster, those who have suffered domestic abuse, and a number of other situations, according to Roll Call.