Starting in 2014, most people will have to have insurance or pay a "penalty deducted from your taxable income". For individuals, penalty starts at $95 a year, or up to 1% of income, whichever is greater, and rise to $695, or 2.5% of income, by 2016. For families the tax will be $2,085 or 2.5% percent of household income, whichever is greater. The requirement can be waived for several reasons, including financial hardship or religious beliefs. If the tax would exceed 8% of your income you are exempt, also some religious groups are exempt. That tax cannot exceed the cost of a "bronze plan" bought on the exchange. While some states, including Alabama, Wyoming and Montana, have passed laws to block the requirement to carry health insurance, those provisions do not override federal law.
Yup, unless you fall below the poverty line, then it is free...