Public Support Growing for Delay of Obamacare Fine on Uninsured
InfoPoll | 11-04-2013

Public Support Growing for Delay of Obamacare Fine on Uninsured

A graph showing support for postponing the 2014 fine on the uninsured. A poll on July 5th shows 41% support, while a separate poll on October 29th shows 51% support.

A growing percentage of the public supports delaying the Affordable Care Act’s fine on people without health insurance. When polled in July 41% of survey respondents nationwide supported waiving the uninsured fine in 2014 for consumers as it already had been waived for businesses. By October, a separate nationwide survey found 51% of respondents supported delaying the fine on the uninsured until 2015.

In the July survey, support for the delay clearly exceeded support for the fine (41% versus 12%) but did not represent the majority of survey respondents. In the October survey, support for the 2014 uninsured fine delay had become the majority of respondents. It should be noted, however, that while both nationwide surveys addressed the topic of the Affordable Care Act’s uninsured fine, the surveys were not identical in question and answer options.1

HealthPocket also observed an increase in the percentage of people supporting the 2014 enactment of the uninsured fine. In the July survey, 12% of people supported the uninsured fine commencing in 2014. These supporters more than doubled to 28% of survey respondents by October. In both surveys, supporters of the uninsured fine were substantially outnumbered by those who would delay the fine in 2014.

In the October survey, survey respondents were asked, “Would you prefer: 1) Delaying the Obamacare fine for being uninsured 1 year, or 2) keeping the fine limit at 1% adjusted annual income so it won't rise to 2.5% by 2016?” Respondents had the option of answering "Delay the uninsured fine until 2015," "The fine should not be delayed or modified," or "Cap the fine at 1% of adjusted annual income." 21% of respondents preferred the uninsured fine be limited to 1% of income. Currently the fine for being uninsured in 2014 is the greater of 1% of adjusted annual income or $95 (with a family maximum of $285). By 2016, the fine will reach is the greater of 2.5% of adjusted annual income or $695, (with a family maximum of $2,085). This fine on people lacking creditable health insurance is sometimes referred to as the “individual mandate.”

What is unclear from the survey results is whether the technical problems experienced on the federal health insurance exchange has influenced public opinion on the 2014 uninsured penalty. The problems have been widely publicized2 by the press and there has been renewed political discussion3 regarding the fine during the time of polling.

METHODOLOGY

This study is based on the results of two nationwide surveys.

Results from the first nationwide survey are based on 884 responses to an online poll conducted from July 3, 2013 to July 5, 2013. Respondents were asked "Should the Obamacare fine on consumers without health insurance be waived in 2014 just as the fine for employers not providing health insurance was waived?" Three options were provided from which the respondent could select one: "Yes, the waiver should apply equally," "No, the consumer fine should remain," and "Not certain." The survey was displayed within a network of over 100 different news web sites and other content sites. Demographic inferencing and methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, income, and region was performed by technology administered by Google. Race, education, and health insurance status were not examined. Margin of error across the responses is estimated at + 3.5/-3.5.

Results from the second nationwide survey are based on 1,319 responses to an online poll conducted from October 27, 2013 through October 29, 2013. Respondents were asked "Would you prefer: 1) Delaying the Obamacare fine for being uninsured 1 year, or 2) keeping the fine limit at 1% adjusted annual income so it won't rise to 2.5% by 2016?” Three options were provided from which the respondent could select one: "Delay the uninsured fine until 2015," "The fine should not be delayed or modified," and "Cap the fine at 1% of adjusted annual income." The survey was displayed within a network of over 100 different news web sites and other content sites. Demographic inferencing and methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, income, and region was performed by technology administered by Google. Race, education, and health insurance status were not examined. Margin of error across the responses is estimated at +2.8 / -2.8.

AUTHOR

This survey analysis was completed by Kev Coleman, Head of Research & Data at HealthPocket.com. Correspondence regarding this study can be directed to Mr. Coleman at kevin.coleman@healthpocket.com.

Feedback and questions are welcome but, given the volume of email, personal responses may not be feasible.

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Sources:

1 See METHODOLOGY section of this study for detailed information in the survey designs.
2 For example, see the New York Times coverage on the topic. Richard Pérez-Peña, Abby Goodnough, and Robert Pear. "As Demand Stays High, Officials Try to Address Problems in Exchanges" New York Times. (October 2, 2013). http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/us/problems-persist-on-second-day-of-insurance-markets.html?_r=0. Last accessed November 1, 2013.
3 Susan Davis. "Democrats beginning to support Obamacare delays." USA Today. (October 25, 2013). http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/10/24/democrats-waver-obamacare-delay-hagan/3181655/ Last accessed November 1, 2013.

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