April 23rd, 2010
12:42 PM ET
12 years ago

CBO report: 4 million will pay health care penalty

New York (CNNMoney.com) - About 21 million Americans will be uninsured in 2016, when health care reform laws are fully implemented, with 4 million of them subject to a penalty for failing to buy insurance.

Those projections were released Thursday in a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO said that collections from the penalty will total $4 billion a year over the 2017-2019 period.

High-income families making at least $96,000 will pay two-thirds of those fines, while families making between $24,000 and $96,000 will contribute nearly one-third of the funds collected.

Under the health care overhaul, which legislators passed in March, most U.S. residents will be required to purchase health care or pay a fine. By 2016, the penalty will be either a flat $695, or 2.5% of household income - which ever is higher. The fines are capped based on income.

The CBO report noted the majority of the uninsured will not be subject to these fines because they belong to exempt groups including extremely low-income households, some religious sects and unauthorized immigrants.

Of the 4 million people who will pay the fine, about 9% will have annual income below the poverty line: $11,800 for individuals and $24,000 for a family of four. Fees paid by that segment of the population will make up 4% of the total money collected from penalties.

In contrast, households with income above 400% of poverty level - more than $96,000 - will comprise 36% of people paying the penalty, and 66% of the total penalty revenue.

President Obama signed the health care overhaul into law March 23, despite unanimous Republican opposition. The plan is projected to extend insurance coverage to about 32 Americans who are currently uninsured. The government will help people pay for it by expanding the Medicaid program, as well as giving out subsidies and tax credits.

States will be required to create exchange programs that will allow individuals and small businesses to shop for insurance and negotiate better prices. But several states have filed suit, saying the overhaul is unconstitutional.

Filed under: CNNMoney.com • Health care
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. comeonreally

    Is the CBO making this assumption based off the data of currently uninsured americans? It sounds to me like they are saying that of the 21 million uninsured americans, 4 million of them would be paying fines if this law were effective right now. This does not make any sense at all. If the people being fined are those who make enough money to afford health insurance, they would quickly buy into a plan to avoid those fines. I am not sure who is being more irresponsible, the CBO for making such naive analyses or CNN for misinterpreting an objective study that was never meant to be sued for such ludicrous assumptions.

    April 23, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Conservative Democrat

    Why would families making $96,000 plus not have health insurance. They should be fined for being stupid.

    April 23, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Chipster

    After reading the comments about the 5 years of porn surfing at the SEC, I must wonder if Americans can read at all. God help us! Obviously, we are lacking in the education department.

    Maybe this is why someone as ill-informed and poorly educated as Palin has any followers at all.

    April 23, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. rdepontb

    This is a relatively neutral time for me, politically, so it may be a good time to ask: On what basis, and to what extent, is the Congressional Budget Office "non-partisan" today? I understand it's been around since 1974, and that both the House and the Senate leadership appoint the CBO Chairman, but how exactly does one ensure "non-partisanship?"

    What makes the CBO non-partisan??

    April 23, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. jeff jackson, alabama

    This is not the only drawback to health
    care reform. I wrote in over and over and
    tried to get all you Obamanites to read the
    bill and do your research. But.,noooo......
    you were all too busy name calling and
    slamming every Republican in the world
    and making fun of Palin's kids.
    You were too dang lazy to get off your
    butts and do the research. Now reality
    is going to slap you in the face like a
    greased fly swatter !!!!!

    April 23, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Jack

    So we're talking about maybe a little over 1% of the population? I don't see this as mind-boggling numbers. There are around 8 million Americans who are millionaires. The overwhelming majority of the population will see no change. You have a better chance of becoming a millionaire. Good luck.

    April 23, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. johnnyhouse

    Long live the KIng.Let us all give thanks for the shafting we are about to receive.

    April 23, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Are you posting during Common Room time at the looney bin, or is your tin foil hat on too tight?

    Remember, babe, he's not the Anti-Christ, he's just the President. He'll be moving on in 6 1/2 years and all will be right with YOUR world.

    Hang in there.

    April 23, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. johnnyhouse

    Get your facts right it was not just Republicans balking.

    April 23, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Mike

    Fine you for not paying health care. Whats next, fine you for not eating your vegetables? This health care deformity should be shoved up the demorats you know where then kicked out of office. Also nobamby has ignored Arizona 5 times when they requested assistance for illegals who are really criminals for entering this country illegally and are causing excessive problems for law abiding citizens.

    April 23, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    well this is 4 million that the old "hope and change" just isn't workin' out for

    April 23, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Ryan

    Um hello people : you're already legally obligated to pay car insurance! So you'll not complain about your car but if you get hit by one then you're a victim of "socialism" not attempted vehicular manslaughter?

    700something dollars for a year of health insurance is a STEAL!!!

    If you refuse to pay it then we should refuse you treatment if you get into trouble. Simple as that.
    You refusing to be responsible for yourself and not buying into the system only shows us that you expect the rest of us to pick up your tab.

    If you recieve medical treatment, it's your responsibilty to pay for it. So when the government asks you to simply pay your coverage up front in case you do get into trouble (and you very likely will) and they charge you a reasonable amount (and it absolutely is) then what's your problem???

    Only in America do people freak out over cheap health insurance but not the inane costs of cable, cell phone plans, HDTVs and movie theater prices.

    We're talking about YOUR HEALTH!

    This insurance option is probably cheaper then the money you happily waste on processed foods, cigarettes, & alcohol each year.

    I can't believe there are people this stupid who oppose this plan. If you seriously think the government is too big and ruining your life then move to a place with less government like Haiti or Somalia and send us post cards. Tell us all about the joys of less government and no running water, functioning hospitols, or police to protect you from gun-toting criminals.
    We'll miss having you around. No. Really.

    April 23, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Steve (the real one)

    High-income families making at least $96,000 will pay two-thirds of those fines, while families making between $24,000 and $96,000 will contribute nearly one-third of the funds collected
    So lets see. Families making $24,00 will have to pay a fine of $695, which they can't afford because they didn't buy government mandated healthcare (unconstitutional), which they can't afford! That is change alright! Just the wrong kind

    April 23, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Freedom! Isn't it wonderful? Too bad we don't have it any more.

    Back in sixteenth century England, when Elizabeth I was queen, she tried quite vigorously to make the Church of England the church of England. Even then, in an age of intense religious intolerance, Catholics were more or less free to pursue the religion of their choice–but only after paying very large fines to Elizabeth.

    Now, today, we all seem to be free to opt out, at least to some extent, of Obama's socialised medicine scheme–but only by paying off Obama.

    April 23, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Twinkle

    When Congress talk about the health care overhaul, they forget one thing which I feel is another rip off to the consumer.

    Most of these pharmaceutical companies that made our drugs earned huge profits last year due to charging the consumer with outrageous prices just to fill their prescription.

    Elders could barely afford their medicines and would cut their pills in half just to "stretch" it out until the next month. (My dad had to do that).

    What angers me is that when the patient discovers that he/she is allergic to their prescribed drug, the pharmacy won't take it back for a refund due to exposure to contamination.

    This isn't right nor is it fair and just.

    There should be reform in prescribed meds so that the patients wouldn't have to bear the cost for additional meds to replace the previous one that they were allergic to.

    We need to STOP ripping people off just to pocket huge profits out of greed! And, we need to STOP paying these CEO's outlandish bonuses for "over rated" performances.

    Keep going Obama. You're doing GREAT!

    April 23, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. Dean

    New York (CNNMoney.com) – About 21 million Americans will be uninsured in 2016, when health care reform laws are fully implemented....................................................I thought that Obamacare was going to make sure everyone was insured. Who is getting that trillion plus dollars?

    April 23, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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