Millions of young adults healthy enough to think they don’t need insurance face painful choices this year as the sign-up deadline approaches for health care coverage through HealthCare.gov.
With open enrollment ending after Jan. 31, these penalties are forcing those in their 20s and 30s to consider squeezing in coverage to avoid fines while establishing careers in a still-bumpy economy.
The minimum penalty rose sharply to $695 in 2016 for someone uninsured a full 12 months and not eligible for one of the law’s exemptions, more than double from 2015. The law sets the penalty at either $695 or 2.5 percent of taxable income this year, whichever is greater. A study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the average 2016 penalty at nearly $1,000 per uninsured household.
Penalties are the health care law’s nudge to get healthy people into the insurance pool, helping keep premiums manageable for everyone. While rising penalties could boost health care sign-ups this year, that’s not likely to win hearts and minds for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which remains politically divisive.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch