Thursday, March 29, 2012

Republicans once again protect the 1%

Who are the Republicans protecting from the individual mandate penalties?  I did some calculations. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that there will be approximately 272 million non-elderly people in the U.S. in 2014 when the individual mandate of Obamacare would take affect.

CBO estimates that 80% of these non-elderly or approximately 218 million would be insured in the absence of Obamacare so they are not affected by the mandate.

That leaves 54 million who could be potentially subject to the individual mandate.

However, 40% or approximately 22 million of those potentially subject to the mandate will be exempt from the penalties because they are members of certain religious groups and Native American tribes; undocumented immigrants (who are not eligible for health insurance subsidies under the law); incarcerated individuals; people whose incomes are so low they don’t have to file taxes (currently $9,500 for individuals and $19,000 for married couples); and people for whom health insurance is considered unaffordable (where insurance premiums after employer contributions and federal subsidies exceed 8% of family income).

That leaves approximately 33 million people subject to the penalties.

However, according to a poll of the uninsured conducted for Demos ( ) 83% of these people or approximately 27 million are uninsured because they can’t get coverage, can’t afford the coverage available or for some other non-voluntary reason.  These people want coverage and will be able to obtain it under Obamacare so the penalties will not apply to them.

That leaves approximately 6 million people who voluntarily refuse to purchase health insurance and are thus actually subject to the penalties from the individual mandate.

So, out of 272 million non-elderly Americans, the whole individual mandate is about penalties that only 6 million, about 2% might be required to pay.

However, experience in Massachusetts suggests at least half of these voluntarily uninsured people who are actually subject to the penalty will just go ahead and get the cheapest insurance they can under Obamacare in order to avoid the hassle of a penalty.

That leaves less than 1% of the non-elderly adult population in 2014 who would actually pay a penalty, about the percentage that paid a penalty in Massachusetts in 2009. 

Once again, Republicans are punishing the 99% to protect the 1% or less.

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