Initial provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented in March 2010. Additional provisions, including the individual mandate for most people to purchase health coverage (by March 31, 2014), will continue to be enacted in subsequent phases through 2018.
Beginning in 2014, most U.S. citizens and legal residents must have and maintain a minimum level of health coverage or pay a federal tax penalty. The tax penalty is assessed according to a percent of income or a flat fee, whichever is greater, and will be applied on federal income tax returns.
Individuals can purchase coverage through March 31, 2014, to avoid the tax penalty.
Learn more about the individual mandate from Kaiser Health News.
Health Insurance Exchange
ACA established health insurance marketplaces (also known as health insurance exchanges), where consumers can shop, compare and enroll in health insurance coverage. They are intended to create an organized and competitive market by offering a choice of plans, establishing common rules regarding the offering and pricing of insurance and providing information to help consumers better understand the options available.