Who Gets an Exemption From Obamacare?


Credit: screencap healthcare.gov

In anticipation of Obamacare's state-level exchanges going live, questions have been asked about individuals' privacy, incorrect subsidies, and technological difficulties. One of the biggest questions, however, is "How do I get an exemption from the fee for not having health coverage?"

Although the Weekly Standard screencapped the image (see above), the popular inquiry does not come from a poll conducted by them or any other group that has voiced opposition to the healthcare overhaul. Rather, it comes directly from Healthcare.gov, a site operated by the Department of Health and Human Services that is supposed to clarify the law and guide people to their state's exchange.

The fee will be $95 or 1 percent of an individual's yearly income (whichever is higher) in 2014, but will jump to $695 or 2.5 percent of an individual's yearly income in 2016. Finding a way out of both the law and the penalty for not participating is not just popular on the government's site, though. Google Trends show that inquiries related to Obamacare exemptions have skyrocketed in the last month. Reason's Peter Suderman notes several recent polls that indicate the unpopularity of the healthcare law. Although Mark Blumenthel of the Huffington Post argues that people are not against Obamacare, they are simply full of doubt and uncertainty. 

So who has exemptions and who does not? Healthcare.gov provides a list of general guidelines specifically about the dodging the fee, but here is shortlist of 5 high profile cases of various groups with different situations:

  1. Restaurants in Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) district have exemptions. As Americans for Prosperity notes, "When ObamaCare was in its infancy, the Obama administration began handing out waivers to employers for various other provisions of the law. In early 2011, the administration issued waiver after waiver to politically connected businesses [such as] restaurants and hip nightclubs in former-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district."
  2. The Little Sisters of the Poor, and hundreds of other religious ministries who were not as lucky as the Samaritan Ministry, do not have an exemption. They are suing the Department of Health and Human Services, contending that they should have a waiver for religious reasons, but the law defines the exemptions too narrowly.
  3. Big Labor does not have an exemption. The leader of the Teamsters and other major labor unions sent a letter to the White House requesting an exemption from the law. As Ezra Klein explains, "they argue that their plans serve a different purpose, and a different group, than traditional employer-based plans, and they deserve a waiver." However, The Obama Administration recently denied their claim.
  4. Congressmen and staffers, despite widely reported misconceptions, do not have an exemption. As Peter Suderman has clarified, what they have "isn't exactly an exemption. It's a form of special treatment."
  5. Samaritan Health-Care Ministry has an exemption. They "led a successful fight to get language inserted into the law that specifically exempts health care sharing ministries from the individual mandate, which would have required that members buy a traditional health insurance policy or pay significant penalties." Read Jim Epstein's coverage of the Samaritan Health-Care Ministry's situation and watch the video below.

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  1. If you wanted an exemption, maybe you should have dug a little deeper into those pockets when the DNC was sending out donation requests.

  2. Obamacare makes me sick.

  3. Restaurants in Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) district have exemptions.

    Wait, what?

    This the part where we set up the People’s Guillotine.

    1. You, no doubt, would be willing to play the role of Robespierre.

    2. Yes, this is actually old news and most of the media has never covered it. But hey, there is no bias, I’m sure if Boehner had some special friends like this the NYT wouldn’t consider it newsworthy. 😉

  4. Congressmen and staffers, despite widely reported misconceptions, do not have an exemption.

    Too late. GOP radio, who lie 24/7, has already said Congress has an exemption.

    1. For an Soros worshipping government fellating fuckstick you seem to have plenty of time to listen to talk radio.

      I figured that an “on the go” guy like yourself would have more important things to occupy his day.

      1. I live near Atlanta. It is a radio wasteland – the worst in the country.

        Basically there is Christian radio, GOP radio like WSB, and rap.

        When Howard Stern was over the air we were the only major city not to carry him. Memphis carried his show. Here we had Jimmy Swaggert and Rush back then.

        1. Bullshit. I’m seeing lots of station playing a lot of different stuff.

        2. Son there’s this little thing called the internet…perhaps you’ve heard of it?

          1. shreek is a Democrat. He WANTS to be unhappy.

    2. I enjoy tedious pedantic distinctions as much as the next guy, but unless we really go out of our way to redefine “exemption” to mean “not what Congressmen and staffers have” then, yeah, it is an exemption.

    3. Well someone has to match the current occupant of 1600 Penn. Ave. What was that about saving $2500? I seem to have forgotten the claim/promise.

  5. Big Labor does not have an exemption — yet. They are lobbying hard for it though and there are tell-tale signs that the Labor Department is working on a special rulemaking for them: http://washingtonexaminer.com/…..le/2536121

  6. The Little Sisters of the Poor, and hundreds of other religious ministries who were not as lucky as the Samaritan Ministry, do not have an exemption…

    They do, however, still get one annual road game at Ohio State, and a (small) cut of the gate.

    1. No, no, no. Ohio State takes great pride in not playing the Little Sisters of the Poor. They play real competition, like Buffalo and Florida A&M. The Little Sisters have to make do with Baylor and Texas Tech.

  7. “The fee will be $95 or 1 percent of an individual’s yearly income (whichever is higher) in 2014, but will jump to $695 or 2.5 percent of an individual’s yearly income in 2016.”

    It may seem to younger people that ObamaCare was always about siccing the IRS on the helpless, but I remember when ObamaCare was supposed to help the working poor.

    1. I’m still waiting for the shock when a few million 20 year old’s making $25K a year discover they owe a penaltax of $250.

      Well that’s assuming their hours aren’t cut down to 29 hours per week. In which case the penaltax might be well under $200 at that point.

      Hope and Change. Forward!

      1. “penaltax”, did you coin this?

  8. And they laugh all the way to the bankQ


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