By egstark
October 25, 2016
Patients sit in the waiting room at the St. John's Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg via Getty Images

If you don’t have any health insurance coverage, you’ll probably have to pay a penalty next year when you file your taxes.

The requirement to have insurance or pay a fine is one of the most controversial parts of Obamacare. Many health policy experts say that without it, though, the health insurance marketplaces might attract too many people who have expensive medical needs and not enough healthy folks. If that happened, insurers would balk at the requirement the law imposes on them—and one that’s very popular with consumers—to accept everyone who wants insurance, regardless of their health. It’s a tradeoff.

If you don’t have insurance in 2016, you could be on the hook for a fine of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5% of your household income over the filing threshold, whichever is greater. The amount that you’d owe is capped at the national average premium for a bronze plan: $2,484 for an individual in 2015, and $12,240 for a family of five or more.

You can have a gap in coverage of less than three months and not trigger the penalty, which is pro-rated on a monthly basis. After 2016, the flat dollar penalty amounts will be adjusted for inflation.

If you can’t qualify for one of the exemptions from the penalty—and the list is a long one—you’ll calculate your “shared responsibility payment” using a worksheet on Form 8965 and pay your penalty when you file your taxes.

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