At the heart of Obamacare is the individual mandate, which requires everyone in America to purchase health insurance, or suffer a penalty. That penalty began in 2014 and initially totaled a flat fee of only $95, or 1 percent of income above the filing threshold. In 2015, the penalty increased to a flat fee of $325, or 2 percent of a household’s income, whichever one was higher. In 2016 and 2017, the penalties increased to a flat fee of $695 or 2.5 percent of gross income.
While intended to prevent a “free rider” system (of those who can afford, but don’t purchase insurance, and exploit the emergency room loophole when needed), in reality it’s been a burden on low-income Americans, who can’t afford insurance (even with the help of subsidies), but don’t qualify for Medicaid.
According to the Washington Free Beacon:
The majority of households paying the Obamacare penalty in 2015 were low- and middle-income households, according to the most recent from the Internal Revenue Service.
There were 6,665,480 households who chose to pay the Obamacare penalty in that year rather than signing up for Affordable Care Act coverage. They paid a total of $3,079,255,000.
Of the 6.7 million households who chose to pay a penalty, 37 percent — 2.5 million households — earned a salary less than $25,000 per year. There were 5.2 million households that earned a salary less than $50,000 per year who decided to pay the penalty, which totaled 79 percent of households paying the penalty. Finally, 92 percent of the households — 6.1 million households — paid the penalty and earned less than $75,000 a year.
According to Joe Antos, a scholar in health care at the American Enterprise Institute, low- and middle-income households are the least likely to have insurance and least likely to know how to avoid paying the penalty.
However, the individual mandate has been successful in incentivizing people to purchase insurance, and that’s best evidenced from the truth behind much of the Left’s fear-mongering last time an Obamacare repeal bill briefly gained traction. You’d hear that “22 million Americans will be kicked off their health insurance” in absence of Obamacare, yet, they never seemed to include the fine print that 73 percent of those who would “lose” coverage would do so voluntarily in absence of the individual mandate.