Obama administration issues regulations for individual mandate
The Obama administration took new steps Wednesday toward implementing the individual mandate in its signature healthcare law, downplaying the scope of the unpopular provision by stressing rules that allow exemptions from the requirement to purchase insurance.
The Internal Revenue Service and the Health and Human Services Department emphasized exceptions to the mandate, which were detailed in new regulations that also laid out the process by which the IRS will calculate penalties for going uninsured.
The mandate requires most taxpayers to either buy insurance or pay a fine to the IRS. It's one of the most politically unpopular provisions of the healthcare law, and was at the core of last year's historic Supreme Court case over the healthcare law.
HHS referred to the politically charged provision as a system of "shared responsibility" payments.
The mandate penalty "applies only to the limited group of taxpayers who choose to spend a substantial period of time without coverage despite having ready access to affordable coverage," HHS said in a fact sheet on the new rules.
The same fact sheet also noted findings from the Congressional Budget Office that less than 2 percent of the American public will have to make a payment under the mandate.
In 2014, people who choose not to buy insurance and don't quality for an exemption from the mandate will have to pay a fine of $95. The penalty increases to $695 by 2016, and then rises annually based on a pre-determined formula.