Viewers questions about Obamacare answered: Who is exempt?

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DENVER — All this week FOX31 Denver is answering your questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Monday morning, we talked about what Obamacare means for Coloradans with Dede De Percin of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.

Viewers sent us their questions and here are some answers.

LINK: What are your questions about the Affordable Care Act?

1. Are certain individuals with religious beliefs exempt from the individual mandate?
— Loveland

Yes. Individuals are exempt from the individual mandate if they are a member of a federally-recognized religious group that is opposed to accepting insurance benefits.

2. Are politicians exempt from the mandate?
— Lori, Denver

No politicians are not exempt from the individual mandate. Congress is required to purchase health insurance in their state’s marketplace.

3. How will Medicaid change under the new law?
— Gina, Denver

Medicaid will expand to cover millions of low-income Americans. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, Coloradans up to 138 percent of federal poverty level will qualify for Medicaid. That means Medicaid expands to include people making less than$15,800 for an individual and $32,500 for a family of four.

4. How will unemployed people pay the premiums?
— Charlene, Denver

If you are employed, you would pay premiums the same as you do now. Unemployed Coloradans are very likely to qualify for Medicaid for financial assistance if they purchase insurance from Connect for Health Colorado. Individuals making up to approximately $45,960 a year and families of four making approximately $94,200 could qualify for monthly financial assistance. Go to ConnectforHealthColorado.com to find out how much financial assistance you could qualify for.

5. How does the $95 penalty for not enrolling work? Isn’t that cheaper than getting a plan?
— Tyler, Denver

Individuals without health insurance for 3 or more consecutive months in 2014 will have to pay the penalty. They will pay $95 or 1 percent of their income, which ever is greater. The penalty is pro-rated to the number months you are uninsured. You would pay the penalty at tax time if you do not have insurance.

The mandate is cheaper than getting a plan but then you are uninsured and subject to medical bills without health insurance. Injuries and medical conditions are impossible to predict, so it’s not worth the risk of going without insurance. You cannot wait to purchase health insurance until you are sick. The open enrollment period for health insurance is from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

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