The lackluster uptake of the special enrollment period for exchange coverage is driven, in part, because for most people individual mandate penalties are much lower than actual costs of coverage.
Earlier this week, HHS announced that 68,000 people enrolled in exchange coverage through HealthCare.gov as part of a special enrollment period for individuals paying the individual mandate penalty on their 2014 tax filings. That lackluster uptake of the special enrollment period is driven, in part, because for most people individual mandate penalties are much lower than actual costs of coverage.
Monthly health insurance premium costs are significantly greater than the individual mandate penalty for many potential exchange consumers in both 2014 and 2015, even after accounting for tax credit subsidies. However, individuals with incomes at or around the federal poverty level, $11,670 in 2015, will save money by purchasing insurance as opposed to paying the fine. Some individuals earning up to 200% of poverty will also save if they buy insurance, depending on their age and where they live.
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