The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Section 5000A, “Requirement to Maintain Minimum Essential Coverage,” page 126, signed into law on Mar. 23, 2010, available at www.thomas.gov, states:
"(a) REQUIREMENT TO MAINTAIN MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE.—
An applicable individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable individual, is covered under minimum essential coverage for such month.
(b) SHARED RESPONSIBILITY PAYMENT.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) for 1 or more months during any calendar year beginning after 2013, then, except as provided in subsection (d), there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual in the amount determined under subsection (c).
(2) INCLUSION WITH RETURN.—Any penalty imposed by this section with respect to any month shall be included with a taxpayer's return under chapter 1 for the taxable year which includes such month.”
[Editor's Note: Additional details on the penalty continue from page 126 to page 132. Penalties are also discussed in section 1002 of the Health Care Reconciliation Act of 2010, signed into law on Mar. 30, 2010.]
[Editor’s Note: On Aug. 27, 2013, the Obama administration released the final regulations(198 KB) for Obamacare’s individual mandate including how the fines for people who chose not to purchase will be assessed, who it applies to, who is exempt, and the types of insurance that are necessary to meet Obamacare’s health insurance mandate.]
Are There Any Exemptions to the Mandatory Health Insurance Requirement? – YES
Julie Rovner, NPR Health Policy Correspondent, wrote in her July 6, 2012 article "More Answers to Your Questions About the Health Care Law," available at www.npr.org:
"For starters, if you don't earn enough to have to file a federal tax return, you're exempt. In 2010 that was $9,350 for an individual, or $18,700 for a married couple.
You're also exempt if you would have to pay more than 8 percent of your household's income for health insurance, after whatever help you might get from an employer or subsidies from the federal government…
… the VA counts [as having insurance]. So does TRICARE and other military health plans. In fact, just about all government health care program[s], including Medicare and Medicaid, count as well. That's why the Urban Institute estimates that come 2014, only about 7 million people out of the U.S. population of well over 300 million will have to either purchase insurance or be subject to paying the penalty.”
Diane Suchetka, Staff Writer for the Plain Dealer, wrote in her June 29, 2012 article “Affordable Care Act's Mandate Does Not Require Everyone to Buy Insurance,” available at www.cleveland.com:
"Who doesn't have to buy insurance?
• American Indians, prisoners and undocumented immigrants.
• Some religious groups. Those that have historically been exempt from the Social Security system, such as the Old Order Amish, are one example. Religious groups whose members pay for one another's health care instead of buying insurance are also exempt.
• Those whose family income is so low they don't have to file a tax return. Those numbers vary depending on several factors, including how old you are, whether you're married and whether you're the head of your household.
• Those who earn so little that health insurance premiums, after federal subsidies and employer contributions, would total more than 8 percent of their income.
• Those who already have insurance through Medicaid, Medicare, an employer or veteran's health program.”
[Editor’s Note: Based upon a neutral reading of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and bi-partisan third party analysis, this question seems to have a clear and obvious Pro (yes) answer, and ProCon.org has therefore presented the responses in a single column with no opposing perspective.]