With the Healthcare.gov website slowly crawling toward full functionality, uninsured Americans are now faced with a choice. The Affordable Care Act (ACA, colloquially known as Obamacare) mandates that all Americans purchase health insurance while providing subsidized plans for those who cannot afford it. Those who still don’t want to purchase health insurance, however, will have to pay a fine.
A new Gallup poll this week revealed that a substantial number of Americans are planning to do just that. The poll found that 28% of Americans who are currently uninsured plan to pay the fine rather than purchase health insurance. This represents a sizable portion of the estimated 17% of U.S. adults who do not currently have health insurance. Gallup estimates that these numbers mean around 5% of all Americans will opt out of insurance and pay the government fine.
Diving deeper into Gallup’s poll numbers, it is clear that some Americans are choosing to eschew health insurance for purely ideological reasons. While only 15% of uninsured Democrats intend to pay the fine, nearly half (45%) of uninsured Republicans will not acquire health insurance and pay the fine. Despite these numbers, Gallup has stated that it is “unclear” whether Republicans will follow through with paying the fine or are simply using their survey answers as a form of protest.
These poll results have remained largely unchanged from just a few months ago, before the healthcare exchange websites went live in October. Though Gallup saw a small spike in the proportion of uninsured Americans who planned on paying the fine in mid-October when the federal website was experiencing its worst outages, that percentage seems to have now stabilized.