More Uninsured People Will Reject Obamacare’s Mandate
Policy + Politics

More Uninsured People Will Reject Obamacare’s Mandate

REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

More uninsured people say they would rather pay the Obamacare penalty under the law’s individual mandate this year, than buy health insurance on the health exchanges.

A new Gallup poll surveyed nearly 1,000 uninsured people and found that 35 percent say they would rather pay the penalty than purchase health coverage---a 6 percent increase from last year.

Related: Obamacare 2015: Health Care Options for Consumers

Though cost is likely the main determining factor, the political leanings of the people surveyed also seemed to play a role in their responses. According to the poll, some 44 percent of Republicans said they were more likely to pay the fine, compared to 31 percent of Democrats.

The Affordable Care Act was designed for one purpose—to give uninsured people health insurance. If the plan is rejected by the very people for whom the plan is designed, the costs to the country could become unsustainable—especially if those people are young and healthy.

Still, the survey found that the majority of uninsured people do plan to get health coverage this year.

Under the law’s individual mandate, the penalty for not having health coverage in 2015 is $325—nearly double this year’s $95 penalty. Still, more people than last year say they would rather pay the fine, according to Gallup.

However, it is not clear if the respondents are aware of the increase or the cost of the penalty at all. The poll simply asked “Americans without health insurance either have to get health insurance or pay a fine. Given what you know, as of right now, would you say you are more likely to get health insurance or more likely to pay the fine?”

Related: Obamacare Year 2: High Hopes, Huge Challenges

“So either the amount of the fine is still not high enough to compel the uninsured to get coverage — or the uninsured may be unaware of the stiffer penalty in 2015 for being uninsured,” Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones wrote.”

Indeed, 30 percent of survey respondents said they weren’t aware of the fee for the individual mandate. The penalty went into effect last year. Under the law it increases each year and will hit $695 per person without health insurance in 2016. According to the administration’s estimates, about 6 million people will be subject to the penalty by 2016.

Of course, there are exemptions to the penalty depending on a person’s income, and if they have only been without health coverage for three months or less. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 80 percent of uninsured people will be exempt from the mandate. People can also apply for the law’s hardship exemption to avoid being subject to the penalty. Read all of the exemptions here.

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