Blog PostDecember 12, 2013

4 in 10 would rather pay fine than buy insurance

Survey Finds Widespread Confusion about the Affordable Care Act

Author: Elizabeth MacDonald, Fox Business News



According to a new poll of 1,013 adults by Princeton Survey Research Associates, 38% say they would pay the mandate tax and forgo buying health insurance. That finding is higher than the 28% who are uninsured who recently told Gallup they’d pay the tax instead of buying coverage. 

The results also found widespread confusion about the mandate tax. Overall, the findings have implications for health reform, as the White House is pressing people to sign up.

Princeton also found 65% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 would buy health insurance versus 57% of Americans 30 and older.

“One of the key questions surrounding the Affordable Care Act is whether or not young Americans – especially healthy young Americans – will sign up for health insurance,” Laura Adams,’s senior analyst said in a statement. “This research sheds a positive light on that segment of the population. However, it’s concerning that about three in 10 Americans still don’t know about the possible fines.”

The results reflect Americans’ responses to a hypothetical scenario of a 45-year-old individual who earns $50,000 per year. A typical health plan would cost this person $3,000 per year, a statement about the poll says, adding that the mandate tax would be about $400 if this hypothetical person did not buy health insurance.

The report also found that most Americans are confused about the mandate tax amounts and who is required to buy health insurance. Here are other highlights, according to the release:

–74% of Democrats would buy health insurance versus 40% of Republicans and 56% of independents. That finding tracks Gallup’s recent poll numbers, which appear to indicate some Americans may eschew health insurance due to ideological reasons. Gallup found 15% of uninsured Democrats say they plan to pay the mandate tax, but almost half, 45%, of uninsured Republicans say they will pay the fine and not buy health insurance.

–Many Americans are confused regarding the penalty amounts, which are the greater of $95 or 1% of household income above the filing threshold ($10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for families).

–For an individual who earns $30,000 per year, the penalty would be $200. But only a fifth of respondents who knew that uninsured people will be taxed correctly pegged the tax between $100 and $250 (38% overestimated and 36% underestimated).

–For an individual who earns $75,000 per year, the penalty would be $650. Only 21% of Americans who know about fines correctly pegged the amount between $500 and $1,000 (46% underestimated and 29% overestimated).

–Almost eight in 10 Americans who know about the mandate tax incorrectly think that children under the age of 18 are exempt from it. Six in 10 falsely believe that senior citizens over the age of 65 are exempt.

–Only 64% correctly said the mandate tax would come from their federal income tax refund.

Elizabeth MacDonald joined FOX Business Network (FBN) as stocks editor in September 2007.