Massachusetts Minimum Wage Change
Starting January 1, 2016, the minimum wage in Massachusetts will increase to $10.00 an hour. Before Governor Deval Patrick left office, he signed into law an increase in the state minimum wage in three successive annual increments through January 1, 2017. In January 2015, the state’s minimum wage jumped from $8.00 per hour to $9.00 per hour. At the start of 2016, it will increase an additional dollar. Massachusetts joins California by moving the state’s minimum wage to $10.00 which is well ahead of the Federal minimum wage which currently sits at $7.25 per hour. Looking forward to January 1, 2017, the Massachusetts rate will increase again, to $11.00 per hour.
ACA Penalties increase for 2016
The penalties for not having health insurance will increase in 2016 for employees. For 2015, the fine for uninsured people who have access to affordable insurance and don’t qualify for an exemption is $325 per person, or 2 percent of their annual household income. If someone does not have health coverage in 2016, the tax penalty for not having insurance will be $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 up to a maximum of $2,085 for a family or 2.5% of household income, whichever is higher. The fee is calculated based on the number of months you and your household went without qualifying coverage . The more months you go without health coverage, the higher the fee, up to the maximum.
Those without health insurance are not only faced with the penalties but are also challenged with the inability to seek treatment for health conditions, along with rising debt associated with medical bills. According to a 2013 ACA International/Ernst & Young Study, medical debt is the number 1 cause of bankruptcy.
The Federally-Facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace is an online option to buy individual private health insurance coverage. Open enrollment for 2016 individual health insurance coverage in the Marketplace began November 1, 2015, and will end on January 31, 2016. If you don’t enroll in a plan by the deadline you may only be able to enroll in a major medical individual or family plan when you experience a qualifying life event such as marriage, the birth of a child, or a move to a new city or state.
If you’re a low- or middle-income individual or family, you may be eligible to save money thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies (also referred to as “Obamacare” subsidies or advanced premium tax credits). These government premium tax credits are designed to help you pay for health insurance coverage.
To learn more about obtaining health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace you can visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/ or call 1-800-318-2596.