Mass. Residents Face Monthly Fines For Going Without Health Insurance

Residents in Mass., who refuse to get health insurance will soon face monthly fines of up to $76 , says the AP:

The fines are part of an increasingly aggressive approach written into the health care law designed to pressure Massachusetts residents into getting insurance. The law, intended to create near-universal coverage in the state, was approved by lawmakers and signed by former Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006.

It remains unclear how many Massachusetts residents still don’t have insurance, but the number could be in the hundreds of thousands.

The penalties, which vary with age and income, are based on half the lowest cost plans available through the Health Care Connector. They accrue each month an individual remains uninsured and will be due as part of tax returns filed early in 2009.

The penalties apply only to adults deemed able to afford health insurance by the Health Insurance Connector Authority, which oversees the health care law. People can apply for hardship appeals.

The highest fine of $76 a month — or $912 a year — will be levied against those over the age of 27 making more than three times the federal poverty level of $30,636 for an individual.

Married couples who are both uninsured will have to pay fines individually. A couple earning more than $41,076 would have to pay $1,824 in penalties for the year.

The fines drop for younger adults and fall even lower for those making less than three times the poverty level. There are no fines for individuals earning less than $15,325 a year.

The fines will accrue for every month that a person “who can afford” insurance goes without it, and will come due at the end of the tax year.

What do people in Mass. think of this? The government says it has prompted 300,000 uninsured people to get coverage.

No health care? Higher fines in Mass.