The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare, has provisions allowing individuals who are members of certain religious groups to opt out of the required mandates contained in the legislation. If an exemption is granted, the person will not be hit with a penalty, or tax, as the Supreme Court of the United States called it, if they do not obtain health insurance as required by the PPACA.
One of the more interesting rumors floating around the Internet is that Muslims will not be required to obtain Obamacare coverage and that those of the Muslim faith were specifically exempted from the mandatory coverage requirements under Obamacare.
Section 1311 of the PPACA states certificates allowing an individual to be exempt from the requirements of complying with the mandate, including exemption from the penalty imposed, will be issued to those persons who qualify. Persons who qualify for such exemption are those who are already exempt from paying social security taxes and from acquiring other forms of insurance.
Section 1402(g) of the Internal Revenue Code states a person who is a member of a recognized religious sect may apply for an exemption. The sect, or a subdivision of that sect, must be opposed, as a matter of conscience, to accepting benefits from public or private insurance that makes payments upon the happening of certain events such as death, disability, old age or retirement. Exemptions are also granted from insurance that provides medical benefits such as Medicare.
In order to qualify, the religious sect must be an established religion; it must have been in existence since at least December 31, 1950.
As long as these conditions are met, the applicant will be exempted from payments and benefits paid under programs such as Social Security that are required by law. Persons who are exempt can apply to be exempt from the mandatory requirements of the PPACA.
Religious Sects Exempt under the Internal Revenue Code
Christian Scientists are the only religious group specifically mentioned in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But the legislation makes it clear that those who have obtained exemptions from paying for other forms of insurance, including Social Security, under the Internal Revenue Code can apply to be exempt from the Obamacare mandate and will be entitled to such exemption.
The largest group holding exemptions under the Internal Revenue Code are Anabaptists—Mennonites, Hutterites and the Amish. Members of these religions believe it is their community that should be responsible to assist those who fall ill or who suffer as a result of death, disability or old age. Members are not required to make payments towards Social Security, Medicare, or any other form of private or public insurance and are consequently not entitled to collect benefits.