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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate and why do we have it?

As of 2014, the ACA requires most Americans to have health insurance. The good news is that most people already have health coverage that meets the requirement, such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE or veteran’s coverage, or a plan through an employer, or in some cases health coverage bought on one’s own. For those who need it, the health care law creates more ways to shop for coverage and more options to get financial help to pay for it. Under the law’s consumer protections, no one can be turned down for coverage because they have a pre-existing condition.

Is there still a health care law requirement to have health coverage or pay a penalty?

See what coverage, costs, and comparisons to consider when shopping for health insurance.

Most states no longer require people to have health coverage or pay a penalty. However, no one plans to get sick or hurt. Health insurance covers many costs and offers other important benefits when these unexpected health issues arise. If you live in New Jersey, Massachusetts, or the District of Columbia, you may still be required to have health coverage. Check with your state Health Insurance Marketplace or to learn more.


  • Penalty

    the fee if you don’t have a health plan that qualifies as minimum essential coverage for 2018. This penalty goes away for coverage in 2019, with the exception of a few states and the District of Columbia that have their own individual mandate.

  • Individual mandate

    the Affordable Care Act requirement that nearly everyone have health insurance that meets minimum standards. Beginning in 2019, the mandate will no longer apply for most states.

Read More Glossary Terms

Find Contacts in Your State

Medicare, Medicaid, Health Marketplace