More than one out of four, or 28 percent, of uninsured Americans say they are more likely to pay the individual mandate fine than buy insurance, according to a new Gallup poll. On the other hand, 63 percent of uninsured Americans plan on just getting insurance. What's fascinating, though not surprising, is how this decision splits along party lines. Uninsured Republicans are far more likely to prefer to go without insurance than uninsured independents or Democrats.
Surprisingly, uninsured young invincibles — people 30 years old or younger — are slightly more likely to get insurance (68 percent) than older people (60 percent). So, instead of saying that young people aren't signing up, it might be more accurate to say they haven't signed up yet. Older Americans, as well as those who lost their insurance during the recession, are more likely to sign up for insurance early because they're more motivated. As Politico noted last month, they were also much more likely to spend hours on the buggy federal exchange, which was previously blamed as the main deterrent for millennials. Healthy people, especially young people, are motivated by fines and deadlines, which don't come into play for a few months. And maybe some uninsured people think it might be nice to have health insurance.
One group not motivated by fines, or illness, is Republicans. Nearly half (46 percent) plan on getting insurance, while 45 percent plan on paying the fine. Thirty-one percent of independents plan on paying the fine, as do 15 percent of Democrats. Here's the full breakdown:
This is good news for the Obama administration. Young people aren't less likely to enroll, and knowing about the insurance requirement also doesn't sway people one way or the other. Being Republican does. Gallup acknowledges that, for the right, "the decision to pay the fine could be a form of protest against the law," though they note there's a difference between saying you'll pay a fine and actually paying it.
On that note, one thing to consider is that there's been a lot of confusion about the individual mandate and the fine. Specifically, how much is it? The standard number thrown around is $95 for the first year, but that's just the minimum. The actually fine for a single person is 1 percent of taxable income, which is everything over $10,000. Forbes lays it out here. Meanwhile, a late November Huffington Post/YouGov poll found that most (43 percent) of respondents think there are no exceptions to the mandate, though there are allowances for hardship, as well as low income and religious exemptions. Four percent of respondents didn't think there was a mandate at all, proving once again that misinformation is one of the law's biggest roadblock.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.