Feds cap Obamacare fines at $2,448 per person

by Caitlin Bronson | Jul 25, 2014

During last year’s open enrollment season, Wichita Falls, Texas-based producer Kelly Fristoe “tried like a boss” to enroll crucial “young invincibles” through the newly minted HealthCare.gov, but succeeded only in reaching those already experiencing a health condition.

Part of the struggle, he said, was the relatively toothless threat of a 1% tax on income.

“I lay it on them and tell them a story about how, inevitably, you’re going to need healthcare and the place you’re going to go is the most expensive place—the ER,” Fristoe told Insurance Business America in November. “I lay a guilt trip on them like that and they say, ‘I don’t care. I’ll pay the penalty.’”

Now, however, federal officials have released firm new rules on an increased fine for not carrying health insurance that may aid Fristoe and other producers in enrolling new clients.

The figures, released late Thursday, cap the fine for not buying insurance at $2,448 per person and $12,240 for a family of five. The standard rule of thumb is 2% of household income, with a minimum of $325 per person.

The caps are equal to the national average premium for a bronze-level health plan.

Those who choose to go uninsured will owe one-twelfth of the annual payment for each month they or their dependents don’t have either coverage or an exemption, the IRS said.

All fines will be due during tax return season, which can be deducted from tax refunds.

The news is significant because the Obama administration had previously failed to provide hard and fast figures, only offering “theoretical” caps on fines.