Healthcare System: Is It Illegal to Not Have Health Insurance 2017 in the U.S.?

We have asked ourselves this question at least once whether  is it illegal to not have health insurance 2017? The answer to this lies in the history of healthcare laws. But before we delve deeper into the topic, let us be very clear that health insurance whether made mandatory by law or not, is important to have as it enables you to get through unforeseen and disturbing situations.

Now, before we get to the topic, there must be a lot of questions in your mind regarding the healthcare system and insurance system in the United States of America such as is it against the law to not have health insurance, or is it illegal to not use your health insurance in the events like accidents or long term illness? Well, the health insurance rules and regulations in the United States of America are quite dense and tricky. At times, a citizen might even think that, in certain circumstances, not having health insurance is illegal.

Let us dive in to find out the answers to all of these questions:

Just like a physician cannot practice without having their credentials verified (various physician credentialing services help them with this) – patients are also advised to have healthcare insurance as it will lower their overall bills and enable them to get quality care without worrying about their wallets. So, the answer to the question: are you required to have health insurance is Yes!

Do You Need to Have Health Insurance in the United States?

There is no federal legislation in the United States that requires people to have health insurance. Individuals who do not have health insurance may risk a penalty under the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) unless they qualify for an exemption. As of 2019, the punishment is no longer in place. However, certain states may have laws of their own.

Despite the lack of a legal mandate, getting health insurance is of the utmost importance because healthcare expenditures in the United States can be very high. Individuals without insurance may be forced to pay for treatment out of cash, which may quickly grow financially stressful. Furthermore, having health coverage can provide peace of mind and access to preventive care, which can help people retain good health and avoid illness.

A history lesson

People still ask if it was illegal not to have health insurance 2017 or if it is against the law not to have health insurance, and the answer is no, it is not. It is not illegal to not have any health insurance. The historic details tell us why.

The second president of the US, John Adams in 1798 laid the foundation of what is known today as Public Health Services by signing the Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen into law. It was an affordable healthcare act that did not require everyone to have insurance.

Later in the course of history, we have seen numerous changes and amendments to health-related laws, but the most significant of them all is Obamacare, which is formally referred to as Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Obama made it mandatory for millions of people in America to buy healthcare insurance coverage. Under his tenure, there were so many facilities that were provided under health insurance that sometimes people felt that is not having health insurance illegal because it would make them suffer more in terms of finances. Therefore, are you required to have health insurance coverage to be entitled to the benefits of Obamacare, the answer is Yes!

Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act is still active but the clauses concerning the individual mandate is not enforced at the federal level.

Five states and the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) have a law for individuals to have such insurance in place to avail themselves of the benefits. However, legally speaking it is not mandatory.

What is the affordable care act?

The Obama administration came up with a comprehensive Affordable Care Act generally known as Obamacare – to address the healthcare concerns of the common public. It was promulgated on March 23, 2010. If you had been asking the question is it illegal to not have health insurance back then, yes at that time it was illegal. But not today.

health insurance

Obamacare ensures Americans access to good, affordable healthcare facilities and medications. This was done to control the cost factors related to such situations.

What is the patient protection act

This act contains provisions meant to protect basic patient rights and help them easily access healthcare facilities. The government provides subsidies or financial aid as well as premium tax credits or refunds a portion of the tax paid by a person to compensate for their medication expenses. The law further expands its support to help people with low incomes.

Why ACA was given so much importance?

This act works like an insurance policy to help people pay off their healthcare expenses. The government provides subsidies and tax cuts or tax refunds for people who have health problems and need financial support.

This financial assistance is for low-income households. That is, if you make $12,760 per year, you can get financial help.

According to American law, if your income is low but exceeds the threshold of 400% of $12,760, then you will not get any financial benefits. If you calculate your income, which is more than four times $12,760, you will not be getting any help. $1,276 is the base value for calculating whether you can get ACA support.

The main question remains: Is it illegal to not have health insurance? No, it is not, but you will not be financially supported if you earn enough.

Who can get these benefits

Any American citizen is entitled to get access to healthcare benefits, as per the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. But one has to fulfill a certain criterion. The individual’s income must be between $12,000 to about $50,000.

Non-Americans can also avail themselves of the Affordable Care Act, as long as they legally reside in the country.

  • The specific aims of these acts: After many amendments and revisions, the following are the core concerns that ACA addresses to help the common public.
  • Healthcare is a basic right: This act provides affordable healthcare insurance coverage for every individual, from birth through retirement age.
  • The quality of healthcare systems: All healthcare facilities are meant to provide fair and affordable health services to people in need.
  • Controls: One of the most important aims of healthcare insurance coverage is to improve efficiency and quality of life for everyone, by reducing extra expenses.
  • The Lengthening Of Primary Health Care: The act also aims at strengthening and extending all primary care benefits to the public.
  • Investments: Another important aim is to attract investments for all healthcare facilities.


We hope that the questions about whether it is illegal to not have health insurance and whether it is illegal to not use your health insurance have been answered. Of course, if you earn over 400% of the federal poverty level, it would be good to have some health insurance coverage, but it is no longer mandatory.