55% of Uninsured Residents Plan To Purchase Coverage, Poll Finds
Fifty-five percent of uninsured U.S. residents said they plan on purchasing insurance in 2014 rather than paying a fine under the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, according to Gallup poll released Friday, United Press International reports.
For the poll, Gallup surveyed 1,507 U.S. residents via telephone between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28.
The poll also found that more than 50% of the uninsured who said that they intend to purchase coverage plan to do so through a health insurance exchange.
However, the survey also found that uninsured residents who have visited an insurance exchange site are roughly twice as likely to rate their experience as negative rather than positive (United Press International, 3/7).
Most Uninsured Residents Will Pay 1% of Income as Penalty
The majority of U.S. residents who fail to purchase health insurance in 2014 will be liable for fines that exceed the individual mandate's $95 minimum penalty, according to an ACA Tax Penalty Calculator developed by the Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Under the ACA's individual mandate, U.S. residents who are not exempt and fail to purchase coverage will be fined either $95 or up to a maximum of 1% of their income, whichever is greater. The penalty increases to a minimum of $325 or maximum of 2% of an individual's income in 2015, and a minimum of $695 or 2.5% of an individual's income in 2016 (Easley, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/7).
There are a total of nine exemptions from the mandate, including for those who have religious objections, prisoners and health care sharing ministries, as well as various financial hardship exemptions.
The Tax Policy Center on Friday launched the calculator in order to help consumers determine their liability for failing to purchase coverage under the rule. Overall, an analysis found that only low-income U.S. residents would pay the minimum penalty and that the majority of uninsured would be liable for a larger penalty (Howell, Washington Times, 3/7).
For 2014, the calculator found that only individuals without dependents with annual incomes of $19,000 or less would pay the minimum penalty. An individual with an annual income of $30,000 would pay $200, while a person with a $40,000 annual income would pay $300.
Meanwhile, a family with three children and an annual income of between $50,000 and $100,000 would have to pay a fine of between $300 and $800 ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/7).
Penalty Threat Likely To Be Leveraged More in 2015, State Officials Say
States marketing their health insurance exchanges likely will emphasize the ACA's individual mandate penalties more in their advertising strategies in 2015, according to two state officials, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Speaking at a conference on health insurance exchanges sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans, Sandra Cook -- a consumer assistance specialist for the Arkansas Insurance Department -- said that the penalties were not emphasized earlier because officials "[i]n the beginning ... wanted to give positive messages about how great it was going to be to get affordable health insurance." However, she said that the penalties likely will be emphasized going forward because "[t]hat's what we understand as people. We understand how we are going to get punished, and we understand that you are taking from our pocketbook."
Cook added that officials have to be careful not to make the strategy "a completely negative message," adding, "We want people to feel comfortable that they are getting something, that this is something that they are doing that is going to enhance their lives."
Cammie Blais of Connect for Health Colorado said, "You will most likely start to see us talk about [the penalties] more in Colorado," adding, "We recognize that we have a responsibility to educate folks on the existence of this" (Young, CQ HealthBeat, 3/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.