The AP reports:
WASHINGTON — Americans who refuse to buy affordable medical coverage could be hit with fines of more than $1,000 under a health care overhaul bill unveiled Thursday by key Senate Democrats looking to fulfill President Obama’s top domestic priority.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the fines will raise around $36 billion over 10 years. Senate aides said the penalties would be modeled on the approach taken by Massachusetts, which now imposes a fine of about $1,000 a year on individuals who refuse to get coverage. Under the federal legislation, families would pay higher penalties than individuals.
In a revamped health care system envisioned by lawmakers, people would be required to carry health insurance just like motorists must get auto coverage now. The government would provide subsidies for the poor and many middle-class families, but those who still refuse to sign up would face penalties.
Called “shared responsibility payments,” the fines would be set at least half the cost of basic medical coverage, according to the legislation.
In 2008, employer-provided coverage averaged $12,680 a year for a family plan, and $4,704 for individual coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual survey. Senate aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the cost of the federal plan would be lower but declined to provide specifics.
The legislation would exempt certain hardship cases from fines. The fines would be collected through the income tax system.
Now isn’t that nice?
This sort of reminds me over how the expansion of SCHIP was funded and will continue to be funded: Thanks, in part, to high taxes paid on cigarettes by smokers. The government doesn’t want you to smoke and endorses campaigns to get you to quit, but at the same time they don’t want “too many” to quit because they wouldn’t have all the funding they needed to keep the expanded version of SCHIP going. In the case of ObamaCare, they want “everyone” to be covered, but they know by the CBO’s own estimates that there will be roughly 15 millions who still won’t have coverage once (and if) this plan in its current form is passed and signed into law, so they’ll collect $1,000 (or more, depending on whether or not you are single or have a family) from people who opt out of getting so-called “affordable medical coverage” for non-hardship reasons.
I really don’t get this. People who don’t have medical coverage who can pay out of their pocket for medical expenses, or if they can’t afford to they join one of the meriad of “free” healthcare options the US already has in place. So on top of that, the uninsured will have a fine slapped on them, too? Dave at the Rather Than Working blog is on the same page:
As it stands now, if you don’t buy health insurance and you have money, you pay for your health care. If you don’t have money, you get welfare or medi-one or the other. So, if under the new plan, I don’t buy health insurance, I pay for my care and pay a fine. Why?
It’s a tax on socially risky people, people who don’t subscribe to the plan. They can pay for the cost of their risky behavior, without burdening others; but, they aren’t a good example – they’re going their own way, we can’t have that. So let’s encourage them to become part of the crowd and if that doesn’t work, let’s collect some extra money to give to the other people.
This is the worst kind of socialism: we are going to make you do what we think is the right thing, even though there’s no economic cost to us if you don’t.
Except there actually is a “cost” associated here – the government is counting on there being millions of people who either can’t or won’t sign up for “affordable medical coverage” as a way of helping pay that $1 trillion estimated (so far) price tag on the current ObamaCare plan. If they take that $1,000+ penalty off the table, they’ll have to find another way to get that estimated $36 billio at a time when the left is having to justify the monstrous pricetag of this plan by assuring skeptics that “the money is/will be there.”
In essence, they are destroying healthcare in order to “save” it, or something like that.