The Obama administration announced that people whose insurance plans were canceled this year will "temporarily" be exempted from the law's individual mandate. Here's how they're doing it -- and what it means for the law. 1. The individual mandate includes a "hardship exemption." People who qualify can either ignore the individual mandate altogether or purchase a cheap, bare-bones catastrophic insurance plan that's typically only available to people under 30. 2. According to HHS, the exemption covers people who "experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan."