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Penalties in place for those without health insurance

People who don’t sign up for health insurance by March 31 could be subject to a penalty, which will be calculated in one of two ways.

A single adult with annual household income between $10,150 and $19,650 would pay a flat rate of $95. The flat-rate penalty for each child under 18 is $47.50.

A single adult with household income greater than $19,650 would pay 1 percent of yearly household income up to the national average yearly premium for a “bronze” health plan available on the health exchanges. That works out to about $3,600.

People who are uninsured for just part of 2014 would pay 1/12th of the yearly penalty for each month they’re uninsured.

The federal Affordable Care Act calls for penalties on people who don’t have “minimum essential coverage,” which is a standard that’s defined in the law.

Penalties for people who lack minimum essential coverage this year will be assessed on taxes filed during 2015. For most people, there is no impact from the federal health law on taxes being filed this spring, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Some people could be exempt from penalties, including those with incomes below $10,150 and people who are uninsured during 2014 for less than three months. Exemptions also are available to members of federally recognized American Indian tribes and people who belong to what are known as “health care sharing ministries.”

The Social Security Administration also administers a process for recognizing religious sects that are conscientiously opposed to accepting any insurance benefits. Members of such groups also can be exempt from penalties.

Penalties are scheduled to increase in the future. In 2015, uninsured consumers pay 2 percent of income or $325 per person. The penalties are 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person in 2016.