Major Exemption for Affordable Care Act

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Uninsured Americans have just ten days left to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise they could face a fine. But a recent change in the law allows almost everyone to opt out of ObamaCare and avoid a penalty.

This change happened in December; a new hardship exemption was added and this month it was extended until 2016. It's the 14th hardship exemption which says if you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance, you don't have to sign up for ObamaCare and you won't face a fine.

The exemption is so broad it could cover almost anyone. Even previous hardships applied to millions of people, things like homelessness, domestic violence and bankruptcy.

"There's two different categories, you have hardships and you have exemptions. Exemptions are pretty much cut and dry. (For example) if the lowest cost coverage that's available to you is over 8 percent of your household income, (or you're exempt if) you don't have to file a tax return because your income is too low," explains Juliana Barker, an in person counselor with the Winnebago County Health Department.

Another change allows those who lost their health insurance because it didn't meet standards of the Affordable Care Act, to opt out and avoid a penalty until October 1, 2016.

Penalties are three-fold; either $95 per adult and $47.50 for a child, with a cap of $285 per family, or 1% of your total household income, or the equivalent of the cost of a bronze-level plan, you pay whichever is greater of the three options listed above. Families won't have to pay that fine until 2015 since it's based off this year's income.

In 2016 it's 2.5% of income or $695 per person, whichever is higher.

For a complete list of exemptions and hardships, click the related links. You'll also find a link to an exemption application, as well as a document to the change in law.

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