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So you didn’t get health insurance before the deadline and now you have to not only wait another yet but also face the penalty which you thought was only $95 but turns out was significantly higher.

If you are like me, you assumed it was just cheaper to pay the $95 than to actually bother with getting insurance. What I didn’t know what that it wasn’t just $95. It’s $95 per person or 1% of your household income (whichever is greater). So that means if you and your husband made $55,000 last year you are both facing a $550 penalty and if you kids without insurance, you can add in penalties for each of them as well (half of whatever yours is).

The real kicker is, this is something you have to pay, not something you can just deduct from your anticipated refund. Because apparently without paying this penalty, you won’t be getting a refund.

But don’t panic, there are options. In fact there are a couple of things you can do to get out of it legally but the easiest one is simply stop paying a utility bill for a month or two or three.  Don’t go crazy and spend that money because once you get your shut-off notice you will want to pay that bill off right away … I mean it’s no fun without water or electricity.

In the end what you want is that shut-off notice because that qualifies you for that exemption from that Obamacare tax penalty.

Now just remember that some utility companies do report the late payment to your credit agency so you might incur a minor temporary hit on your score but not all of them do. In my case, I know my water company doesn’t so for me, that would be the best option. If you are concerned about that, easy way to find out, use a site like Credit Karma and run your report, find out if they are reporting that way.

Under certain circumstances, you won’t have to make the individual responsibility payment. This is called an “exemption.”  If you have any of the circumstances below that affect your ability to purchase health insurance coverage, you may qualify for a “hardship” exemption:

  1. You were homeless.
  2. You were evicted in the past 6 months or were facing eviction or foreclosure.
  3. You received a shut-off notice from a utility company.
  4. You recently experienced domestic violence.
  5. You recently experienced the death of a close family member.
  6. You experienced a fire, flood, or other natural or human-caused disaster that caused substantial damage to your property.
  7. You filed for bankruptcy in the last 6 months.
  8. You had medical expenses you couldn’t pay in the last 24 months.
  9. You experienced unexpected increases in necessary expenses due to caring for an ill, disabled, or aging family member.
  10. You expect to claim a child as a tax dependent who’s been denied coverage in Medicaid and CHIP, and another person is required by court order to give medical support to the child. In this case, you do not have the pay the penalty for the child.
  11. As a result of an eligibility appeals decision, you’re eligible for enrollment in a qualified health plan (QHP) through the Marketplace, lower costs on your monthly premiums, or cost-sharing reductions for a time period when you weren’t enrolled in a QHP through the Marketplace.
  12. You were determined ineligible for Medicaid because your state didn’t expand eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
  13. Your individual insurance plan was cancelled and you believe other Marketplace plans are unaffordable.
  14. You experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance.