Ask the Editor: How do fines work if you don't have health insurance?

While doing a deep dive into health care-related news this month, an important question was asked about how individuals might be penalized for not having health insurance.


This “individual mandate” requires one to pay a fine for each month he or she did not have “minimum
essential coverage,” according to www.healthcare.gov. Although some exemptions apply, most U.S. citizens are required to be covered by insurance or risk paying a fee when they file their annual federal tax return the next year.


The penalty fee could amount to as much as 2.5 percent of one's household income or $695 per adult, whichever is more. The fee is only assessed for months in which the individual is not covered for health insurance. Those without insurance for one to two months may qualify for a “short gap” exemption that prevents any fines from being assessed.


The national health care debate could change this mandate, but for now it continues to be the law.

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


MOST RECENT

Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week. (Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week

The county reported 596 total cases on May 29.

The Williamson County small-business grant program has issued more than $18.5 million as of May 29. (Ali Linan/Community Impact)
Williamson County small-business grant program issues more than $18.5 million

The program has aided more than 1,600 local businesses.

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported eight new cases of coronavirus May 29, bringing the county total to 596. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
1 death and 8 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported May 29 in Williamson County

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported the total number of cases at 596.

(Courtesy Fotolia)
New school schedules and a road opening: Latest news from Central Texas

Read the latest news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the Central Texas area.

Williamson County reports additional coronavirus-related death May 28. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County reports additional coronavirus-related death May 28

“Our hearts are with the family who lost their loved one due to this deadly disease," Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.

Southwestern University has released a campus plan for the fall 2020 semester. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Southwestern University releases campus plan for fall 2020 semester

The semester will begin Aug. 24 for in-person classes.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Georgetown business owners reflect on the impact of coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Georgetown business owners reflect on the impact of coronavirus

“Being on top of the world and [just] crashing down was just heartbreaking," one business owner said.

Each eligible child will receive $285 in benefits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some Texas students eligible for one-time federal benefit to aid with food purchases

Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits.

Williamson County judges are continuing to hold court even as the coronavirus pandemic forces the courts to enter digital spaces. (Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Justice continues in Williamson County even as courtrooms go virtual

Williamson County judges are continuing to hold court even as the coronavirus pandemic forces the courts to enter digital spaces.

Williamson County confirmed coronavirus cases have reached 588. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
4 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Williamson County, which has reported more than 9,800 tests

Currently, 15 patients are hospitalized, and seven are in intensive care, per the report.