There's a meme going around Facebook right now that many of my more conservative friends have been sharing. I'm not going to put it here because it's a huge lie I don't care to promote. I had to speak out and point out how many lies one meme can contain.
It's a photo of some poor sad sack claiming that he now has to file for bankruptcy because he was hit with the IRS fine for not filing for insurance through the Healthcare Exchanges of the Affordable Care Act.
It was pretty obvious from the discussions on threads that many conservatives have no idea how the ACA works, what the fines are, how they are collected and about the health care subsidies. They don't or won't understand that even if (Gawd forfend!) Jeb Bush is elected president that he'll not be able to end the ACA. The Supreme Court has spoken and no amount of Bush politics will end it.
After trying to explain these realities to people who refuse to listen I've decided to break it down here, for anyone that's seen that lying meme. I studied this in the fall in my tax classes, volunteered to man the phones when the ACA was still in the planning stages, plus have helped people sign up for the ACA through several volunteer stints. I understand this stuff, at least better than the average Teaparty member even if I'm not Einstein.
First of all, people below a certain income threshold are not required to purchase insurance through the marketplace. If this fellow in the meme was so poor he couldn't sign up, pay premiums and will end up in bankruptcy court then chances are good he's below that income threshold.
The government have made it very easy to sign up for. You can visit the healthcare exchange website, you can call a phone number to sign up if you're not computer literate. Many volunteer organizations at social outreach sites have helped people sign up for the ACA. The tax preparation place I trained at also helped people who showed up and hadn't signed up for insurance go ahead and sign up. It's easy to sign up, unlike what many on the right are claiming.
One of the things that you can qualify for based on income when you sign up, or later when you do your taxes, is a healthcare subsidy that the government pays towards your ACA insurance. For some people that means you can get your coverage for a very low cost. If you're as broke as the guy in the meme claims to be you'd qualify for some sort of payment reduction or subsidy.
Now if you're one of those government-defying screeching Obama is going to have death panels kind of conspiracy type and you plain old refuse to sign up for the ACA you get hit with a fine. Many of these people found out the hard way this past tax season. It was the first time the fine had been levied and it was part of your federal tax return. You had to fill out several forms on the status of your insurance and if you signed up for ACA if you didn't have employer-sponsored health care coverage.
For this past year the fine was either $95 dollars or 1% of your yearly household income with the maximum family penalty being around $285. Again, this is only if you had an income over 10,150. Below that you're not required to register for the ACA.
So.... this fine was a maximum of $285 and this guy on the meme was having to file bankruptcy on an amount less than the cost of the average monthly car payments? Not bloody likely. Fear tactics and lies from the right wing.
That being said the fine for 2015 is going up. The individual fine is either $325 per person or 2% of your yearly household income with the family maximum fine being $975 so make sure you register and apply for a subsidy if you cannot make those monthly premium amounts.
And if you have a refund due you at tax time, guess what? You own a fine on failure to sign up for health care coverage? That comes right out of your refund. Just go ahead and do us all a favor, obey the law, sign up for the coverage.
Makes me happy I didn't end up doing taxes this season at the tax place as I can just imagine the outrage by some of the folks showing up there finding out that they have to pay a fine for not signing up.