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Some Americans Will Not Buy Health Insurance, Even Under Threat of Penalty

A survey of Americans indicates some who don't have insurance now will not participate in Affordable Care Act program.

| BY Kent McDill



The Affordable Care Act, the center of the governmental battle between the two houses of Congress, was designed to make sure all Americans had access to affordable health insurance.

But it turns out, some Americans don’t want health insurance.

According to, an independent consumer insurance website, while most Americans know the ACA requires them to have health insurance by next year, there are some Americans who aren’t going to follow orders.

In a poll of 2,000 Americans under the age of 65, 88 percent said they understand the new health law has an individual mandate requiring Americans to have coverage in 2014. Twenty-three percent of Americans surveyed don’t have health insurance currently, and 32 percent of those said they were uncertain what they were going to do about their health insurance situation by Jan. 1, when the mandate kicks in.

Sixteen percent of Americans surveyed said they do not plan to buy health insurance by the deadline. Fifty-one percent said they would buy insurance by Jan. 1.

Age and gender played a role in the understanding of the health insurance mandate. Only 79 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 said they were aware of the health insurance requirement, while 93 percent of Americans between the ages of 50 to 64 knew about the mandate.

Fifty-eight percent of uninsured men said they would definitely have insurance by the deadline, 26 percent said they were uncertain of their insurance plans and 16 percent said they would not have insurance at the deadline. For women, 44 percent said they would have insurance, 39 percent said they were unsure and 16 percent said they would not purchase insurance.

There are penalties for making the decision not to sign up for health care, but currently the government is giving Americans a one-year break on the penalties because the system is new. But the penalties are spelled out - $95 for a non-exempt adult and $47.50 per child. For families, it is $285 or 1 percent of the family income, whichever is greater.

By 2016, the penalties grow substantially, to $695 per adult, $347 per child and $2,085 or 2.5 percent of income for families, whichever is greater. There is a cap on the penalties, tied to the cost of basic health care from an ACA exchange.

But the initial penalties and the one-year grace period seem to serve the program poorly. Some people who have lived without insurance will continue to do so as long as there is no penalty, and the initial penalty levels are far below the cost of insurance, even for those who would get a federal subsidy to help pay for insurance.

“I don’t really want to pay a penalty, but it is more economical for me to pay $300 a year (in penalties0 than $200 to $300 a month for insurance I don’t use,’’ medical assistant and nursing student Jessica Birge told CNN. “ Birge, 29, said she would reconsider when the penalties grow by 2016.

There are exemptions to the mandate, including religion, Native American Indian tribes, hardship and prison inmates.

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.