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Mass. proposes higher penalties for uninsured

Posted On: Dec. 30, 2011 12:00 AM CST

BOSTON—Massachusetts residents who do not have health insurance would face a higher financial penalty in 2012 under newly proposed rules.

Under guidelines proposed Wednesday by the state Department of Revenue, the maximum penalty next year for those with incomes that exceed 300% of the federal poverty level would be $105 for each month that an individual is not covered by health insurance, or $1,260 a year.

In 2011, the maximum penalty for noncompliance was $101 a month, up to a maximum of $1,212 a year.

However, penalties for those with incomes that are less than 300% of the federal poverty level would be unchanged from 2011. Depending on their income, they would range from $19 to $58 a month.

Penalties, though, do not apply for individuals whose incomes are less than 150% of the federal poverty level, which currently is $16,344 for an individual and $33,528 for a family of four. Those individuals are eligible for free health insurance coverage, with premiums paid by the state.

Comments on the proposed penalties should be emailed to The deadline for comments is Jan. 5.

Imposing penalties on those without health insurance is a key part of the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform law, with the goal of moving the state very close to universal coverage.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that at 5%—averaged over 2009 and 2010—Massachusetts had the lowest uninsured rate of any U.S. state.