What is the individual mandate?

The individual mandate is a controversial part of the current national health care act known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that has its origins in the Clinton era. Its primary purpose is to try and persuade all citizens from buying health care coverage, especially those who might otherwise not. In order to persuade healthier people to purchase coverage, a sort of fine is enforced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Health care costs are produced by creating a pool of people and lowering the overall costs for everyone. But health care only works when there are enough healthy individuals in the pool to lower the costs in a significant way. The individual mandate is used as a deterrent from not enrolling in care, and hopefully lowering everybody’s costs. However, there are some exemptions to the rule including income, religious objections, and prisoners.

The fine, which can come out of a tax refund or be paid outright, is calculated by person, or as two percent of the household income; whichever is higher. The cost for an uninsured adult is $695 per person, and the cost for a child is $395. In Colorado, according to 2015 data, the median household income is $63,909, and for a family of four with that annual income, the yearly tax penalty would be $2,085.