2014 is the first year most Americans will have to either have health insurance or face a tax penalty.
But most people who are of the penalty think it's pretty small, at least for this first year. And that could turn into an expensive mistake.
"I'd say the vast majority of people I've dealt with really believe that the penalty is only $95, if they know about it at all," says Brian Haile, senior vice president for health policy at . "And when people find out, they're stunned. It's much, much higher than they would expect."
In fact, "the penalty is the maximum of either $95 or 1 percent of taxable income in 2014," according to Linda Blumberg, a senior fellow at the . "For people with higher incomes, it can be much more sizable than $95."
Blumberg says that even for people with more moderate incomes, it's important to remember that the flat fee penalty will be assessed for every family member who lacks health coverage.
"So if it's a two-adult household and both are uninsured, it's twice $95 — $190," he says. "Then if there are any children in the family that are uninsured, the penalty for each of them is half of the $95."
The flat fee penalty maxes out at $285 next year. To help people figure out what they might owe, the , jointly run by the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, just posted an . And Jackson Hewitt has its own "How much is my tax penalty?" .