Although most uninsured Americans plan to buy health insurance coverage by January, one-quarter say they will take the financial penalty stipulated by the federal Affordable Health Care Act, known as Obamacare.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, 65 percent of people presently lacking health insurance said they “planned” to buy insurance by the deadline to avoid a small fine from the federal government for failing to fulfill the individual health insurance mandate, which was upheld last year the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional in a controversial 5-4 decision. However, 25 percent of uninsured Americans say they’ll take the fine rather than purchase private health insurance sold on online market exchanges administrated by the government or otherwise. The remaining 11 percent [sic] had "no opinion." In addition, about half of those currently without health insurance say they’ll use state or federal insurance exchanges as they come online this month.
Among younger Americans typically resistant to paying for health insurance, 69 percent of people 18-29 years of age said they were unaware of the individual health insurance mandate, and lacked knowledge about other aspects of the health care law. But it's not just young adults; Americans of all ages appear uninformed about the new federal health law, whose major provisions were set to take place Tuesday as republicans and democrats continued a congressional standoff regarding funding for Obamacare, with a partial shutdown of government services worldwide. In fact, sixty-two percent of respondents to the Gallup poll said they were “not too familiar” or “not at all familiar” with the health insurance exchanges to be administrated by state and federal governments. And among those who presently lack health insurance, the rate of ignorance rose—nearly three of four uninsured Americans say they’re unaware of the exchanges.
With regard to younger Americans, some conservative pundits see an opening for influencing a wide swath of voters, given the lack of awareness about the new federal health law. A national health insurance pool depends upon younger, healthier enrollees to subsidize older, sicker members of the population. What some refer to as the “classic insurance pool,” others call a Ponzi scheme, asserting that many younger Americans—once they learn more about the new law—may choose to take the penalty rather than the purchase.
Economist Uwe Reindhardt, a supporter of Obamacare, told The Washington Examiner the penalty represents a “major design flaw in the law” given “the penalties for disobeying that [individual] mandate are so low, many young, healthy people may prefer to pay the penalty and remain uninsured until they fall ill, when they can get commute-rated coverage.” A 30-year-old making $35,000 per year, for example, would pay $2,739 for a basic plan, according to an online calculator from the Kaiser Family Foundation. By contrast, that same person would pay a $95 penalty to opt out of Obamacare.
As democrats and republicans this week continue a last-minute battle over Obamacare, 48 million Americans remain uninsured.