Massachusetts Draft Regulations Would Increase Penalties For Uninsured Residents

Armen Hareyan's picture

The penalty for Massachusetts residents who can afford but do not purchase health insurance in 2008 could quadruple compared with the penalty in 2007 under draft regulations released by the state Department of Revenue on Monday, the Boston Globe reports. If the regulations are approved, the maximum penalty this year for residents who do not obtain health coverage would increase to $912per year from $219 last year. The proposed penalties, which are based on half the cost of the least expensive state-sponsored health plan,are capped to avoid excessive fees, according to the Globe.

Under the draft regulations, fines would vary based on income and the length of time a resident has been uninsured. Residents younger than age 26who do not qualify for subsidized coverage and are uninsured for all of2008 would be fined $672, while residents older than 27 under the same circumstances would pay $912. Fines would be prorated for residents who have health coverage for a portion of the year. Residents with incomes less than 150% of the federal poverty level would not be penalized,according to the draft regulations.


State Revenue Commissioner Henry Dormitzer in a statement said, "We have worked hard to craft these penalties in a manner that is straightforward and easy to understand," adding, "We hope they will encourage people who can afford health insurance to buy it." The regulations will be finalized early this year. Residents can comment on the proposed penalties until Jan.15, and they will not face the penalties until they file their 2008 tax returns.

The total number of residents facing penalties for being uninsured during a period in 2007 will be determined once 2007tax returns are filed, according to the state revenue department andthe Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority.The connector estimates that 290,000 of the state's 400,000 uninsured residents have enrolled in health coverage since the law took effect on July 1, 2007 (Krasner, Boston Globe, 1/1).

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