Can’t afford the premiums. Don’t need health insurance. Won’t support Obamacare.
These are some of the reasons why CNNMoney readers say they’ll opt to pay a penalty for not having health insurance in 2014, rather than sign up for a policy in the state-based exchanges or through their companies.
“I would love to have insurance, but we just don’t have the money,” said Sandra Czop, 58, of Bloomingdale, Ill. “We need that $100 to put food on the table. We have no money to put gas in the car.”
Czop, a mortgage loan officer whose business is down 60% and whose husband is unemployed, summed up the sentiments of many readers. Though subsidies are available to those earning less than 400% of the poverty level, the premiums are still too high for many Americans.
For 2014, the penalty is either $95 per adult or 1% of family income, whichever results in a larger fine. (Income is defined as total income above the filing threshold, which is $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a family in 2013.) That’s still a lot less than premiums, which are generally $200 to $300 a month on average for a silver plan.
So a person making $50,000 would not be eligible for a subsidy and would pay full price — typically around $2,400 to $3,600 a year in premiums — for a plan. If he declined to get insurance, he would only be subject to a $400 penalty for the year.
A couple earning that amount would receive a roughly $1,300 subsidy, leaving them to pay about $4,750 in premiums for the year. But that compares to a $300 penalty.
For some folks, health insurance just isn’t a good deal. Take Jessica Birge, 29, who is studying nursing and works as a medical assistant. Her job gives her $100 a month for medical expenses, though she does have dental and vision coverage through her employer. But she doesn’t have a lot of medical expenses since she rarely goes to the doctor, opting instead to go to a local clinic for her annual exams.
Though she knows she needs insurance in case she gets into an accident, she doesn’t think Obamacare is very affordable.
“I don’t really want to pay a penalty, but it’s more economical for me to pay $300 a year [in fines] than $200 to $300 a month for insurance I don’t use,” said Birge, acknowledging she may get insurance in several years, when the penalties get more onerous.
Some people are opting to remain uninsured, even though they have access to coverage on the job. Since they don’t go to the doctor much, they just prefer to pay for their health care out of pocket.
Christie Egeston, 35, could get insurance at her lab job, but instead she puts money into the flexible spending account at work to cover her yearly checkup.
“I don’t really feel I need health insurance,” said Egeston, who lives in Avondale Estates, Ga. “If the penalty is less than what I’m paying for the year in insurance, it balances out.”
And, of course, there are people who will not sign up for Obamacare because they fundamentally oppose the idea of a health insurance requirement. That’s the camp Jim Moore of Denver falls into.
“I’m just so opposed to the legislation and Obama’s big government agenda,” said Moore, 62, a contract certified public accountant. “There’s no way I’m giving my health care records to the government. I and many people need to make a statement.”