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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Do I Have to Purchase Health Insurance Under the Affordable Care Act?

By Nate Herpich

Piggy Bank

It's a question that you may have pondered: Does the Affordable Care Act (ACA) require that I buy health insurance? In short, the answer is yes.

The vast majority of Americans will need to be able to prove that they have health insurance that meets "minimum essential coverage" requirements or pay a tax penalty. Some individuals are exempt from this portion of the law, including:

- People from certain religious groups
- Native American tribes
- Undocumented immigrants
- Incarcerated individuals
- People who are not required to file tax returns
- Those whose monthly health insurance contributions would exceed eight percent of their household income

Get more information on exemptions on Healthcare.gov.

The rest of us will need to be able to prove to the Federal government that we are properly insured by completing a form with our tax return, and sending it in to the Internal Revenue Service.

In 2014, the penalties are relatively low: either one percent of your family's annual household income; or $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, capped at $285 per family -- whichever is greater. These numbers will go up in 2015 and 2016.

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Medicare Part D (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Medicare, Medicaid and Insurance (PDF)

The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. provides education, advocacy, and legal assistance to help elders and people with disabilities obtain necessary healthcare.

Features information on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), known as Title XXI, which offers health insurance coverage for eligible kids. Also provides information and resources specific to Medicaid and Medicare along with helpful tools to navigate the system.

Insure Kids Now!Insure Kids Now! is a national campaign to link the nation's 10 million uninsured children -- those from birth to age 18 -- to free and low-cost health insurance.

Kaiser Family FoundationFactsheets for consumers on Medicare. Covers prescription drug law, Medicare Advantage program, Medicare and women, etc.

MedicareThis is the official government site for people with Medicare.

MedicaidMedicaid is a federally supported healthcare program administered on the state level.

The Medicare Rights CenterThe Medicare Rights Center (MRC) is a not-for-profit organization working to ensure that older adults and people with disabilities get affordable health care.

Tri-State AdvocacyPrivately funded non-profit for spinal cord and burn injured survivors and amputees. Helps families on specific provisions of their health insurance policy. Services are free.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

The information provided in the Paralysis Resource Center was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 1U59DD000838-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Reeve Foundation and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.