Consumers who can't afford to buy major medical coverage, or simply don't want to, can apply for individual mandate exemptions.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services explain the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act individual mandate exemption process in a guide aimed at "in person assisters" – people who help consumers sign up for public exchange plan coverage and use it.

PPACA requires most with incomes over a certain level to have "minimum essential coverage" or else pay a penalty for each month they don't.

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Allison Bell

Allison Bell, ThinkAdvisor's insurance editor, previously was LifeHealthPro's health insurance editor. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Think_Allison.