Survey: Most Uninsured Would Rather Purchase Coverage Than Pay Penalty

Sarah Kliff points to this survey of the uninsured, which finds that an overwhelming majority — 76 percent of the uninsured — would rather comply with the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act and purchase insurance than pay the far less onerous penalty for forgoing it. “That would reduce the number of people without insurance to 5 percent of the population and have 25 million Americans purchasing through the exchanges, just slightly higher than the 24 million that the CBO projected,” she writes:

All of this of course depends on the affordability of coverage. Should the premium credits and out of pocket protections prove sufficient — and the federal government implements an effective get-insured campaign — then we will likely experience the kind of mandate success seen in Massachusetts (where most are now insured even though the maximum penalty in actually substantially below the federal amount!) But there is also an interesting behavioral dimension in how people will perceive the mandate. As the Congressional Budget Office has concluded, “health insurance mandates differ from some other requirements, such as the requirement to pay taxes” because “enrollees individually receive a tangible good–health insurance—that they value.” And when considering purchasing coverage, people compare the price of insurance with their perception of its value — not the size of the mandate penalty.