The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides coverage to individuals and families who do not have access to employer-sponsored insurance and/or are not eligible for government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Federal Employee Program, etc). Initial provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented in March 2010. Additional provisions were enacted in subsequent phases through 2018. The individual mandate tax penalty which requires individuals to have health coverage or pay a fee began January 1, 2014. As of the 2019 coverage year, the penalty is no longer enforced.

Individual Mandate

Beginning in 2014, most U.S. citizens and legal residents must have and maintain a minimum level of health coverage or pay a federal tax penalty. The tax penalty is assessed according to a percent of income or a flat fee, whichever is greater, and will be applied on federal income tax returns.

Individuals can purchase coverage through March 31, 2014, to avoid the tax penalty.

Learn more about the individual mandate from Kaiser Health News.

 Health Insurance Marketplace

ACA established health insurance marketplaces (also known as health insurance exchanges), where consumers can shop, compare and enroll in health insurance coverage. They are intended to create an organized and competitive market by offering a choice of plans, establishing common rules regarding the offering and pricing of insurance and providing information to help consumers better understand the options available.