Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Jail time for people who don't buy health insurance?

Will you go to jail if you don't get health insurance? Critics say it's a possibility, but we find the fears to be overblown.
Will you go to jail if you don't get health insurance? Critics say it's a possibility, but we find the fears to be overblown.

A subsidiary of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity has sent out an e-mail headlined, "Health Care Mandate Will Require Imprisonment and Fines for Americans Who Can’t Afford to Purchase Insurance or Pay Hefty Government Penalties."

Both the House and Senate bills would impose taxes designed to prod Americans who are uninsured into buying insurance. Exemptions would be provided for families of limited means. Backers hope that no American actually pays the tax; they want to see people spending those dollars on health insurance instead.

But what would happen to someone who refuses to pay? Could someone really end up in prison for lack of health insurance?

The answer is: Not very likely. That's why we rate the claim Barely True .