ObamaCare’s Individual-Mandate Penalty to Rise Sharply in 2016

ObamaCare’s individual-mandate penalty just gets worse every year, and 2016 is no exception. Next year the penalty for not having government-approved health insurance increases to the greater of $695 per adult — children incur only half the penalty — or 2.5 percent of taxable household income, with a family maximum of $2,085.

That is a significant jump from this year’s penalty of $325 per person or two percent of income, which itself was a large hike from the 2014 penalty of $89 per person or one percent of income. Before that, of course, there was no penalty, the federal government never before having mandated that Americans purchase a particular product, which anyone but Supreme Court justices can see is forbidden to do under the Constitution.

For 2014, 7.5 million households paid the ObamaCare penalty, to the tune of $1.5 billion. Meanwhile, 12 million households claimed exemptions from the individual mandate for various reasons.

As is so often the case, bad news for taxpayers is good news for the Obama administration, which plans to use the threat of higher penalties to induce recalcitrant Americans to enroll in exchange coverage, something it has struggled to do up to now. That is partly because of the many technical glitches Healthcare.gov and other exchange websites have experienced, but even with most of those ironed out, enrollment is still sluggish and not expected to improve much. The administration announced last week that its goal for exchange enrollment in 2016 is around 10 million, up about one million from this year. By contrast, at the time the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that there would be 21 million enrollees in 2016, an increase of 8 million over the previous year; and just four months ago, the CBO forecast 20 million enrollees next year.