Friday, June 29, 2012
Understanding The Individual Mandate
Quite a few Americans seem to think the mandate will apply to them (and most other Americans), and that Americans who are already having trouble making ends meet in this terrible economy, will have to come up with more money (money they don't have) to pay the individual mandate (or its tax penalty). That is simply not true. It's time for a little education about the individual mandate, and just who would be affected by it. Here are some of the facts:
* The individual mandate will only affect between 2% to 5% of the American population. That means between 95% to 98% of the population will NOT be affected by Obamacare's individual mandate. And it could be even less than that. Last year in Massachusetts (which has a very similar mandate), the penalty for failing to comply with that mandate only applied to 1% of the state's population.
* The people listed below will NOT be affected by the individual mandate:
* People will also not be affected if they have insurance coverage by one of the following:
* Even among the tiny percentage of the population that will be affected by the individual mandate, the federal government will pay all or part of the required insurance for people making up to 400% of the federal poverty level. That 400% level is currently about $44,680 for a single person, and $92,200 for a family of four. People above those levels will not get government help. The help will be on a sliding scale, with those making less getting more government help.
As you can see, the individual mandate is not really an onerous requirement. It won't even apply to nearly all Americans, and for the few it does apply, care is taken to give help to those people needing it. As this provision kicks in and people see what it is really all about, I believe most people will accept it. Especially since this one provision will help keep their insurance costs down more than any other single thing.
The Republicans will be busy between now and election day referring to the mandate as a new tax on Americans. I don't have any problem with them calling it a tax (since failure to cooperate will result in a small tax liability). But those of us who understand the individual mandate is an integral part of the success of Obamacare, need to make sure that everyone understands that this "tax" will apply to only a tiny portion of the total population. Most people don't need to worry about it at all.