Residents with no health insurance face fines in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has begun imposing stiff fines on residents who, for whatever reason, fail to purchase health insurance. The programme is the enforcement end of the state's universal health-insurance plan – and the fees reach up to $912 a year, says

The penalties apply to anyone deemed able to afford health insurance by the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, the state agency that oversees the entire programme:

  • Fines accrue every month to individuals not insured and are due as part of the tax-filing process for the year; the assessments began this year for the first time.
  • The highest penalty for lacking insurance last year was the loss of the personal exemption, worth $219, on the individual's state tax return.
  • This year the fine increased to half the total cost of the cheapest health insurance plan available through the state health insurance agency.

    "The Massachusetts universal coverage plan is overregulated and largely unworkable," said Devon Herrick, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "The least expensive plan would cost a 37-year-old male resident of Massachusetts $196 a month, and a fine for not having insurance could run half of that, or $98 a month. The same 37-year-old living in Dallas could buy coverage for $98 per month."

    Herrick said deregulation of the insurance market in Massachusetts would bring the costs way down.

    Source: No health insurance? Face fines,, March 5, 2008.

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    For more on Health Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 11 March 2008
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