Time is running out for thousands of uninsured Connecticut residents who must decide whether to comply with a federal mandate to buy health insurance starting Jan. 1, 2014 or pay a penalty instead.

“We are undertaking a paradigm shift in how we think about health insurance,” said Dan M. Smolnik, a tax attorney from Brookfield. “We don’t know for sure how people in Connecticut will respond. But I think the majority will weigh the risks of not having health insurance and make a rational decision that isn’t purely based on economics. People are smarter than that.”

Known as the “individual mandate,” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires most Americans who can afford coverage to buy insurance or pay the tax. About six million people will chose to pay a penalty each year instead of purchasing coverage, federal officials estimate. Foregoing coverage means consumers take the risk of being saddled with high health care bills, one of the primary reasons people declare personal bankruptcy.

Click here to continue reading Magaly’s report from the Connecticut Health Investigative Team.