Consequences for People Without Health Coverage? The Fine Amount Is Increasing

By Zachary Baron

Two weeks ago, Enroll America released a new issue brief on the close connections between health coverage enrollment and tax filing. As we’ve long highlighted, the tax filing moment creates an excellent opening to lift up financial assistance and make the most of the real effect of the fine to motivate uninsured consumers to take action.

Unless exempt, consumers without coverage must pay a fine when filing their taxes (in addition to the thousands of dollars the uninsured typically spend on medical services during the year). As shown below, the fine amount has increased significantly each year since the first open enrollment period.

EA_issue-brief_tax_figure-3

An Enroll America survey prior to the second open enrollment period (OE2) showed that although most knew that there was a penalty for not having coverage, 85 percent of respondents underestimated the size of the fine. That’s why we intentionally sought to share more specific information regarding the fine amount during OE2 and the tax filing Special Enrollment Period in order to further motivate consumers to enroll.

Given the sizeable amount of the fine for 2016 ($695 per adult or 2.5 percent of yearly household income, whichever is greater), we hope the enrollment community will join us in emphasizing the fine amount both prior to and throughout OE3. In the coming months, Enroll America will perform further testing and share more lessons learned about how to best engage and inform consumers about the fine. Policymakers should also take action to expand the overlap between tax filing season and enrollment opportunities so that consumers facing the fine can still sign up.

This graphic and these recommendations come from our latest issue brief: Amplifying the Connections Between Health Coverage Enrollment and Tax Filing. Read the brief to learn more about public data, Enroll America’s private survey research and outreach efforts, messaging considerations, and effective partnerships to best leverage the tax filing moment to maximize enrollment.

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