Do I need to buy health insurance?

Most people are required to have health insurance by March 31 or pay a penalty. The good news is that people in Washington state already have coverage. But if you're one of the nearly 1 million people in our state who are uninsured or if you're struggling to pay for your insurance, you might qualify for tax credits or financial assistance. Here's how it works:

Tax credits

If you're an individual making between $15,281 - $45,960 a year or are a family of four earning less than $94,200, you could qualify for tax credits (www.healthcare.gov) to help you buy a health plan in Washington's Healthplanfinder. The amount of assistance you'll get depends on your income.

Free coverage

If you're an individual earning less than $15,281 a year and are a legal resident of Washington state, you could qualify for free coverage (www.hca.wa.gov).

Penalties

If you don't have health insurance by March 31 of this year, most people will have to pay a penalty (www.irs.gov) of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, up to $285 for a family or 1 percent of their household income, whichever is greater. The penalty increases to $325 or 2 percent of household income in 2015 and $695 or 2.5 percent of household income in 2016.

You're exempt from the requirement to have health insurance if:

  • You're low income
  • You're a member of a recognized Indian tribe
  • You have a religious objection to buying insurance
  • You live outside the U.S.
  • You've been uninsured for less than three months
  • Your employer's health plan is unaffordable (if it costs more than eight percent of your household income)
  • You're enrolled in a health care sharing ministry

Updated 03/31/2014

See also

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