Mandate Penalty Prompts Signups for Obamacare

The looming April 15 deadline for Obamacare’s penalty for not getting health insurance prompted “substantial” enrollment surges in some state-run exchanges.

Officials with state-run health insurance exchanges in New York, California, Washington and Kentucky said during a Wednesday call with reporters that the tax penalty appeared to play a role in open enrollment signups, which ended Sunday. A preliminary total of 11.4 million people signed up for healthcare nationwide through either healthcare.gov or the 14 state-run exchanges.

While declining to say how many signups were a direct result of the law’s tax penalty, exchange directors said the penalty was definitely a factor.

“One of the reasons we had substantial enrollment is individuals discovering the potential tax penalty and literally walking across the street to our enrollment centers,” said Peter Lee, director of California’s state healthcare exchange, which had 1.4 million people sign up or renew coverage.