For the federal law, the comparable time is the close of the enrollment period at the end of March. After that, people without health coverage face tax penalties of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater, unless they meet the criteria for exemptions. Chandra, however, notes that there are differences from Massachusetts' experience that make it less than a perfect comparison. For one, the Massachusetts penalty was higher than the federal health law's penalty in the first year. On the other side, he noted that more people in the United States are aware of the health law's penalty "because we’ve had a four-year fight about [the law]; nothing like this had happened in Massachusetts."
Laszewski says the political controversy over the rules may have left consumers confused. "Is my policy really canceled? What do all these objections from insurance commissioners really mean? The consumer is left in the lurch trying to figure out what is going on," he says.
Kirsten Sloan, a policy director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, says that is not the case with those most desperate for medical care. "Many people living with cancers and survivors who have been waiting, they know these deadlines," she said.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Wed, Nov 27 2013