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U.S. Budget Experts’ Forecast: 6 Million Americans to Pay Healthcare Penalty

September 21, 2012

By 2016, virtually every American citizen will be required to have health insurance or will be faced with a penalty of about $695 per person.

While the exact number of people affected by this penalty is not certain, a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates nearly 6 million American’s may be subject to the penalty under the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate.

The recent bump – about 2 million more than first estimated in 2010- is due to projection changes about the economy, unemployment and lower income rates,  as well as state opposition to expand Medicaid programs, which is most unpopular in states with Republican governors or Republican-majority legislatures, according to the CBO. Read More…

The analysis report did include the various exemptions for those who will not have to purchase health insurance or pay the penalty due to financial hardship, religious objections and other circumstances.

But it is also important to consider that many people will not have to worry about the penalty since they will already have coverage through a parents plan until they are 26, through an employer, and/or government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Not to mention those who simply take responsibility and buy a plan.

So which 6 million Americans will this penalty affect?

A TIME magazine article, “Tax Penalty to Hit Nearly Six Million Uninsured,” explains the CBO projection and the political reactions to the announcement.

Romney’s spokeswoman, Andrea Saul says the new report is more evidence that Obama’s law is a “costly disaster.”

The Obama administration said 98 percent of Americans will not be affected by the tax penalty — and suggested that those who will be should face up to their civic responsibilities.

Erin Shields Britt of the Health and Human Services Department stated:

“This (analysis) doesn’t change the basic fact that the individual responsibility policy will only affect people who can afford health care but choose not to buy it…We’re no longer going to subsidize the care of those who can afford to buy insurance but make a choice not to buy it.” Read more…

Under the Affordable Care Act, the money raised from the penalty must be used mainly to fund government subsidies to help middle- and low-income people pay for health insurance. In the end, the outcome of  our current health care law depends on what happens in the upcoming presidential election.

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