By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan: We’re just days into open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and while people begin reviewing their health insurance coverage options I wanted to be sure that everyone was aware that the penalties for failing to have health insurance are changing too. In some instances the dollar amount an individual or family would pay in penalties will more than triple what the fee (penalty) was in 2014.

Part of the Affordable Care Act says that you must obtain and maintain minimum essential health insurance coverage throughout the year or pay a fee (tax penalty).

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The fee for not having health coverage is calculated one of 2 ways. You’ll pay either a percentage of your household income or a flat fee — whichever is higher.

So, if you don’t have coverage in 2015, you’ll pay the higher of these two amounts:

•2% of your yearly household income. The maximum penalty is the national average premium for a bronze plan.

OR

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•$325 per person for the year ($162.50 per child under 18). The maximum penalty per family using this method is $975.

There is a great free calculator on InsuranceQuotes.com that can help you see how much of a financial penalty you’ll face if you go without health insurance in 2015. Here is a link:

http://www.insurancequotes.com/health/obamacare-penalty-calculator

If you do decide to go without insurance, the fee (penalty) will be deducted from monies you get back as part of any federal tax refund. So if you don’t get insurance in 2015, they’ll go after the refund that your due in early 2016.

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Please note, as with any law, there are some groups that expempt from having to obtain insurance. That includes: members of certain religious groups and Native American tribes; undocumented immigrants (who are not eligible for health insurance subsidies under the law); incarcerated individuals; people whose incomes are so low they don’t have to file taxes (currently $9,500 for individuals and $19,000 for married couples); and people for whom health insurance is considered unaffordable (where insurance premiums after employer contributions or federal subsidies exceed limits of family income); and those going without insurance for less than three months in a row.