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Individual Mandate - Will the Uninsured Pay or Play?

October 15, 2013
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The individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act says that nearly all Americans be covered under minimum health insurance in 2014, or pay a tax penalty. There are some exceptions to the provision, but overall most Americans -- especially uninsured Americans -- will be deciding whether to purchase health insurance or pay the penalty. PayOrPlayIndividualMandate

So will uninsured Americans choose to purchase health insurance (play) or pay the fee (pay)?

Individual Mandate Penalty/Fee

The fee starts at $95/year or 1% of income, which ever is greater and increases over the first three years:

  • In 2014, the penalty will be $95 per person up to a maximum of three times that amount for a family ($285) or 1% of household income if greater.

  • In 2015, the penalty will be $325 per person up to a maximum of three times that amount for a family ($975) or 2% of household income if greater.

  • In 2016, the penalty will be $695 per person up to a maximum of three times that amount for a family ($2,085) or 2.5% of household income if greater.

  • Beginning in 2017, the penalties will be increased by the cost-of-living adjustment.

individual mandate pay or play

Individual Mandate - Play or Pay? 

With the fee relatively low the first year (lower than the cost of health insurance for some), will uninsured Americans decide to pay the penalty rather than purchasing health insurance?

A recent survey conducted just before the open enrollment for the health insurance exchanges, asked just this question.

The results?

  • Overall, only 4% of adults say they are planning on paying the penalty associated with not having minimal coverage by March 31, 2014.

  • However, when asked to uninsured Americans, 22% say they are planning on paying the penalty.

The Morning Consult September Tracking Poll 10

individual mandate play or pay

Source: Morning Consult.

The survey also polled voters on:

  • Attitudes about the Affordable Care Act
  • The Health Insurance Exchanges
  • Preferences with Health Insurance

The Morning Consult National Healthcare Tracking Poll was conducted from September 25-28, 2013, among a national sample of 1,976 registered voters. Results from the full sample have a margin of error of +/- 2 percent. The interviews were conducted online by Survey Sampling International, Inc. and the data was weighted to match a target sample of registered voters based on age, race, gender, education and region.

Click here to read the full Morning Consult's September 2013 Tracking Poll.

What do you think -- will uninsured Americans opt to pay versus play? Leave a comment below.


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