Few People Seeking Exemptions From Obamacare

Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 01:10 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Relatively few people have sought exemptions from the Obamacare requirement to have health insurance or pay a fine, government statistics show.

So far, around 77,000 families and individuals have requested the exemptions from the individual mandate, reports The Washington Post. As of April 20, officials approved tens of thousands of the requests, while putting some on hold or vetting them.

But when compared with the 8 million who have signed up, the number of exemptions appears to suggest that Americans are complying with the mandate.

People who belong to certain religious groups, Native Americans, illegal immigrants and people falling under "hardship" categories may all request exemptions, including people who have "experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance."

There have been few people seeking the hardship exemptions, reports Serco, the company processing exemptions for all states but Connecticut. As of April 20, just 2,700 of those applications were processed, and have been set aside until the federal government says how to go ahead with them.

On Friday, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials said the agency is working with those people to see if they can fit into a different exemption category.

In addition, 20,000 applications have not yet been processed from people who say they can't afford insurance, Serco reported. CMS is testing a tool that will allow those people to calculate whether they are eligible for an income-based exemption.

But while the exemptions are low now, the Obama administration estimates that some 12 million people will seek exemptions by 2016.

Of the exemption requests, more than 32,000 came from Native Americans, who are exempt because their healthcare is funded through the federal Indian Health Service.

In addition, more than 11,000 religious exemptions were approved as of April 20, and organized efforts have been made in Amish and Mennonite communities that already are exempt from Social Security and Medicare.

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