Obamacare: mandate for the unemployed

Will the unemployed be required to buy health insurance and be penalized if they don’t?  I work seasonally for a small farm, and collect unemployment in the off-season.

Partly Unemployed

Dear Partly Unemployed,

First, you should look into whether your seasonal job will be adding health benefits for you.  If you work more than 120 days a year, you are considered full-time; this means that not offering you health benefits will trigger a penalty for the employer. (This applies only if the employer has 50 or more employees that count as full time.)

Now – in answer to your question: Yes, unemployed people will be required to buy health insurance but they may be able to avoid at least part of the penalty.  Under health reform, a person can go for three months without health insurance and pay no penalty. In addition, there are exceptions for people who would have to spend more than eight percent of their income for the lowest cost plan. Depending upon your annual income, you might qualify for this exception.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.