Obamacare Fine Still Not High Enough; People Are Opting Out

I posted about how the Obamacare fine is going up. But new media reports I have seen indicate the fine may not be going up enough. The New York Times reports, “Many See I.R.S. Penalties as More Affordable Than Insurance.”

Clint Murphy let the deadline for getting health insurance by the new year pass without a second thought.

Mr. Murphy, an engineer in Sulphur Springs, Tex., estimates that under the Affordable Care Act, he will face a penalty of $1,800 for going uninsured in 2016. But in his view, paying that penalty is worth it if he can avoid buying an insurance policy that costs $2,900 or more. All he has to do is stay healthy.

“I don’t see the logic behind that, and I’m just not going to do it,” said Mr. Murphy, 45, who became uninsured in April after leaving a job with health benefits to pursue contract work. “The fine is still going to be cheaper.”

Two years after the Affordable Care Act began requiring most Americans to have health insurance, 10.5 million who are eligible to buy coverage through the law’s new insurance exchanges were still uninsured this fall, according to the Obama administration.

But plenty of healthy holdouts remain, and their resistance helps explain why insurers are worried about the financial viability of the exchanges over time. They say they sorely need more healthy customers to balance out the costs of covering the sicker, older people who have flocked to exchange plans.

This has been a problem that has been building. Consider this report from 2014:

The anecdotal stories the New York Times tells are quite enraging. Consider this one:

Ben Wakana, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said people would still be better off buying insurance.

“We understand some people may be thinking through their choice of coverage, but going without health insurance is a serious gamble that can be catastrophic if wrong,” Mr. Wakana said.

[…]

Susan Reardon, 61, of Kalamazoo, Mich., said she was leaning toward going uninsured this year. She calculated that she would have to spend more than $12,000, including premiums of nearly $500 a month and a $6,850 deductible, to get anything beyond preventive benefits from the cheapest exchange plan available to her.

Ms. Reardon, whose husband is old enough to be covered by Medicare, said she would rather pay out of pocket for the drugs she takes for fibromyalgia and the handful of doctor appointments she tends to need each year.

If something catastrophic happens, she said, “I feel like it’s better just to die.”

As for the tax penalty, which could approach $1,500 for her?

“Come and get me,” Ms. Reardon said.

Obamacare is forcing people to risk their health and safety in order to stay solvent.