Perhaps the biggest and most controversial question regarding the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate is how the whole thing will work. In essence, what will happen to those who refuse coverage on purpose? It’s a good question, because it aims to the heart of anyone extreme enough to intentionally refuse health insurance, sick or otherwise, on the grounds that they won’t be compelled to pay for it by their government. So let’s just pretend that you’re that person for a moment.
You refuse to purchase health insurance in 2014 for one reason or another. Come tax time in 2015, you’ll see a bump of $285 per family from the IRS. Should you continue to go without health insurance in 2015, the bump will rise to $975 per family, then $2,085 by 2016. Eventually, if you’re among that population of intentionally uninsured Americans long enough, you’ll be paying $2,085 per year in taxes, but without getting any benefits on the other end. In other words, there’s no win for the person who decides to opt out. They pay, but they don’t get.
The Congressional Budget Office, in estimating revenues for the Affordable Care Act, has estimated that nearly 20 million Americans will opt out of health insurance and pay the tax instead. At least, for the first couple of years. Once the idea catches on, experts believe the wave of opposition for the mandate will dwindle and most will come on board, finding insurance to be more and more affordable each year.
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