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Two million more Americans to pay penalties under Obamacare law

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 20th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Roughly two million more Americans will pay penalties under President Obama's health care law for lacking insurance, larger than had previously been estimated. Under the law, Americans must be insured starting in 2014 or pay a penalty assessed on their tax returns.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After the legislation passed in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office, working alongside the Joint Committee on Taxation, estimated that roughly four million people a year would decide to pay the penalty instead of getting coverage in 2016. The CBO and JCT revised that figure up to six million this week, citing legislation passed since 2010 as well as the weaker economic outlook.

The groups also pointed to the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year to make the health care law's expansion of Medicaid optional for states.

Of those who choose to pay the penalty in lieu of purchasing health insurance, 10 percent are projected to be below the federal poverty level for 2016, which the CBO and JCT estimate will stand at about $12,000 for an individual or $24,600 for a family of four.

The penalty will be no more than $285 per family, or one percent of income, whichever is greater in 2014. By the year 2015, the cap rises to $975, or two percent of income. By the year 2016, it will reach $2,085 per family, or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater.

The dollar amounts for a single adult would be $95, $325 and $695 during that same time period.

Roughly 30 million non-elderly Americans are projected to remain uninsured in 2016, though most will not be subject to the penalty tax. The penalty will be waived for people with very low incomes who don't have to file tax returns, those who are members of certain religious groups, or people who face insurance premiums that would exceed eight percent of family income even after including employer contributions and federal subsidies.

In 2016, penalty payments are expected to total $7 billion, about $3 billion more than previously estimated.

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