US

More Uninsured Will Resist Obamacare This Year

Next year, 35 percent of uninsured people would rather pay the upped fine for not having health insurance than buy Obamacare coverage — up 6 points from this time last year, when the penalty was hundreds of dollars lower. 

According to a Gallup poll released Thursday, 55 percent of the uninsured said they’re planning on getting coverage in 2015, but 35 percent are fine with just paying the individual mandate’s tax on going uninsured.

In November 2013, just 29 percent of the uninsured said they were willing to pay the $95 fine in 2014 for remaining uninsured. But in 2015, the uninsurance penalty jumps to $325 — and increases even more in future years.

The Obama administration is insistent that the individual mandate is a vital part of the Affordable Care Act, but widespread exemptions during Obamacare’s first year in action resulted in a very small proportion of the uninsured actually paying the tax.

Just four million of the country’s uninsured population are expected to actually pay the penalty in 2014, according to a June report from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation. That’s 2 million less than the administration had projected in 2012 — and $3 billion less than the CBO expected the federal government to make in order to keep the Obamacare’s total bill low.

The mass exemptions in Obamacare’s first year could be motivating some uninsured Americans to try to avoid being forced to buy coverage. And after HealthCare.gov’s tortuous rollout last year (the administration promises that this year will be easier), others might be staying away from exchanges due to dreading the technical difficulties.

While the individual mandate penalty is surging this year, so is the cost of getting insured. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, eight states are experiencing double-digit premium increases in their individual health insurance markets this year, compared to just four states that are seeing slight decreases. (RELATED: Eight States Are Facing Double-Digit Premium Hikes In 2015)

Gallup noted that many uninsured are still unaware of the availability of Obamacare exchanges and that others may be unaware that the penalty for being uninsured is increasing.

The Obama administration itself projects that fewer Americans, previously uninsured or not, will sign up for Obamacare exchanges this year than experts originally expected. The Department of Health and Human Services dropped their estimate to just over 9 million total enrollees in 2015, down from 13 million the CBO believed was probable — and necessary to keep premium costs low.

Follow Sarah on Twitter