Fox News is rewriting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to warn young people they could face prison time if they fail to pay the fine for not having health insurance -- a penalty the law expressly prohibits.
Commonly called the individual mandate, a provision of the ACA requires uninsured Americans to obtain health coverage by the end of March. Those who do not will owe the government a fine -- this year, $90 or 1 percent of income -- in part to help mitigate the cost to taxpayers of medical care for the willfully uninsured.
Fox & Friends took the repercussions of not paying this fine to the extreme. On the October 28 edition of the program, co-host Brian Kilmeade asserted that young people's motivation in paying the penalty will be “in order to avoid prison time or whatever ramifications.”
PolitiFact rated statements like Kilmeade's a “pants on fire” lie. The Affordable Care Act specifically precludes jail time or any criminal prosecution as a penalty for those who do not gain insurance and refuse to pay the fine. The law clearly states, under the section “WAIVER OF CRIMINAL PENALTIES” :
In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.
And according to USA Today, “the law also spells out that the IRS can't use liens or levies as enforcement tools.”
So what becomes of young people who do not gain insurance coverage and refuse to pay the fine? The government will collect the payment out of a person's future tax-refund checks, if they have any.