Americans unable to pay for health insurance facing penalties

Author: Jennifer Jones
Published: Updated:

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – The deadline to get health insurance or face a fine is this weekend. WINK News found a man who does not make enough money to get help from the government to pay for premiums.

For the past year, Chad Couture has been in the Justin’s Place program through the St. Matthew’s House. It’s a shelter to help people get back on their feet.

“I haven’t needed any money because I’ve been here and they supply all my food and shelter and everything I’ve need in the program.”

Couture has worked a few odd jobs but he does not have health insurance. He found out, he makes too little money to get help from the Affordable Care Act to pay for it.

“Somebody who makes under $11,800 a year doesn’t qualify for assistance through the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare and they don’t qualify for Medicaid in Florida,” said Vann Ellison, the President and CEO of St. Matthew’s House.

He tells WINK News a lot of people in the shelter have this problem.

WINK News took his concerns straight to the White House.

White House spokesman Josh Ernest is blaming Florida politicians. “Now here’s the tragedy of the whole thing,the federal government would actually pay for the cost of the Medicaid expansion to cover those folks, even though it would cost the state of Florida nothing.”

The Medicaid expansion has stalled a number of times with Florida lawmakers.

Since Couture doesn’t qualify for subsidies to help pay insurance premiums and he can’t afford those premiums, he’s now facing a $325 penalty for not having health insurance.

“I know pretty much everyone that I met through here is gonna have some affect in that also,” said Couture.

“It’s one of those really odd situations where the law and the consequences on the poor hasn’t been well thought out,” said Ellison.

St. Matthew’s House is working with everyone at the shelter to get waivers filled out so they won’t get penalized.

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