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Q.

If many Americans choose to pay the penalty instead of buy health insurance, what impact will this have on Obamacare?

 

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

16 Answers
13 Helpful Votes
23 Followers
A.

Well, at this point, enough people are signing up that the Affordable Care Act is going to work. The insurance companies will continue to offer these plans. We already have four million people, over four million people signed up. It will be a larger number than that by the end of March 31st,the deadline to get insurance this year. If you miss the deadline, by the way, on March 31st, you can get insurance but you'll have to wait until November of next year -- or November of this year -- to start signing up again. You know, the impact in terms of the program has always been based more on the mix of people who sign up. Do we have a mix of people who are gray-haired like me and may have some old basketball injuries and aches and pains, along with young people who are healthy and don't really have any issues right now?

 

Do we have a good mix of gender, in terms of men and women? Because one of the things that I didn't mention earlier --in traditional insurance, women have been charged more than men. Essentially, being a woman was a preexisting condition, and it justified higher premiums. And we've eliminated that. Not just for plans under the Affordable Care Act but for plans generally you can’t discriminate against women in terms of how you charge folks. But...what you'll find, I think, is that the marketplace will be stable. And the premiums are going to be reflective of the fact that there are a lot of people who have already signed up. Now, the larger these marketplaces get --you know, a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, as the program develops --potentially that brings the cost down even more.

 

So, if all 40 million people who didn’t have health insurance all signed up by March 31st --in which case there probably would be a line, a little bit, in terms of signing up --but if all 40 million people signed up, then you could assure that probably the premiums would go down significantly next year, just because the pool would have gone beyond what the insurance companies anticipated. You know, the basic principle in insurance is pretty straightforward -- the more you can spread the risk with more people, the better deal you’re going to get. And now the pool is already large enough. The number of people who have signed up is already large enough that I'm confident the program will be stable, but we look forward to seeing more and more people take advantage of it as some of the politics of the thing get drained away, as people start feeling more confident about the website, as folks like you spread the word in terms of giving people accurate information. Then, over time, I think a lot more people are going to take advantage of it.

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