About 6 million American families will face fines for not having health insurance. Coverage is required under the Affordable Care Act, which went into law a year ago. Many prefer paying the penalty rather than higher health insurance fees. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington, D.C.
For the first time, Americans are facing fines for not having health insurance. The penalties are now kicking in, based on last year’s coverage. Stan Dorn is a health care analyst at the non-partisan Urban Institute.
6 million uninsured American families face penaltiesAbout 6 million American families will face fines for not having health insurance. Coverage is required under the Affordable Care Act, which went into law a year ago. Many prefer paying the penalty rather than higher health insurance fees. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington, D.C.
“$95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. It gradually increases until 2016 when it’s $695 or 2 and a half percent of income,” Dorn said.
The fines are part of ACA also known as Obamacare, they are meant to create an incentive for individuals to get covered and to help offset the costs of new regulations prohibiting companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions.
“If you say an insurance company can’t discriminate against unhealthy people and then you say there is no penalty to remaining without insurance, the incentive you create is don’t sign up for insurance until you get sick,” Dorn said. “That blows up the insurance system.”
Dorn said, overall-Obamacare is making great strides toward universal coverage.
“All together we are looking at a one-third reduction in the percentage of uninsured residents in the United States just over the last year or so which is extraordinary,” Dorn said.
But for some people like Julie Yoder, a 42-year-old small business owner in Washington, DC, Obamacare has been a major disappointment. Before the ACA became law she paid about 170 dollars a month for health insurance and said she was reasonably happy with her policy.
She supported Obamacare partly because of U.S. President Obama’s controversial promise to those who liked their plans, he claimed they would have a choice to keep them.
“If you like your plan and your doctor you can keep them. The only changes you’ll see is lower cost and better health care,” President Obama said in June 2009.
Despite President Obama’s claim, her policy didn’t meet ACA requirements and was eliminated. So she signed up for an Obamacare plan and her rates went up.
After a 28-dollar-a month subsidy, she was forced to pay about $300 a month and found out procedures like follow-up mammograms weren’t covered at all. She said she gets anxious every time she gets an explanation of benefits in the mail.
The threat of a small fine hasn’t been enough to stop her from dropping her Obamacare policy and shopping for a new one.
“I’m much better off just paying the penalty than paying $300 a month for nothing,” small business owner Julie Yoder said.
According to the Urban Institute, it’s too early to tell if Obamacare will lead to better health care outcomes in the long term, but Julie Yoder says for her, Obamacare is a bust.
When asked in a nutshell has ACA made your more or less healthy. She said, “less healthy.”