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What Is the Point of an Individual Mandate if You Don’t Talk About the Mandate?

I found this suggestion to move the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period to the middle of tax season to be very interesting in light of how the outreach operations are being run during this second open enrollment period. From Washington Post:
059:365 - 06/28/2012 - ObamaCare

Some Affordable Care Act advocates and tax preparers like Jackson Hewitt have also been urging the Obama administration to set an Obamacare enrollment period that more closely aligns with tax season, citing a few reasons. People in tax season will learn whether they’re paying the ACA penalty for not having health insurance, so they may make the calculation they’d rather get coverage. Also, people receiving tax refunds may then feel like they have the financial flexibility to purchase private coverage.

The advocacy group Families USA, one of the ACA’s strongest proponents, has also called for a marriage of the enrollment period and tax season. “Fully aligning the open enrollment period with the tax filing period would significantly increase enrollment,” the group concluded in recommendations issued earlier this year.

While I’m no fan of the current individual mandate, I found the fact that it is being advertised so little this open enrollment period very upsetting. The whole point of the mandate is to constantly scare/coerce people into buying coverage, but that only works if you are aggressively reminding people of the mandate.

I understand why the Obama administration might not want to heavily highlight the mandate given how unpopular it is, but they have fought to include it so they are obligated to constantly talk about it. Having an individual mandate that the government isn’t aggressively warning people about is the worst of all possible policy. It doesn’t achieve the stated policy goals of the mandate and serves only as a big surprise tax on people.

The Obama team has the duty to either drop the mandate or promote it heavily. Moving the open enrollment period to tax season would definitely be a good way to draw extra attention to it.

CommunityFDL Action

What Is the Point of an Individual Mandate if You Don’t Talk About the Mandate?

I found this suggestion to move the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period to the middle of tax season to be very interesting in light of how the outreach operations are being run during this second open enrollment period. From Washington Post:
059:365 - 06/28/2012 - ObamaCare

Some Affordable Care Act advocates and tax preparers like Jackson Hewitt have also been urging the Obama administration to set an Obamacare enrollment period that more closely aligns with tax season, citing a few reasons. People in tax season will learn whether they’re paying the ACA penalty for not having health insurance, so they may make the calculation they’d rather get coverage. Also, people receiving tax refunds may then feel like they have the financial flexibility to purchase private coverage.

The advocacy group Families USA, one of the ACA’s strongest proponents, has also called for a marriage of the enrollment period and tax season. “Fully aligning the open enrollment period with the tax filing period would significantly increase enrollment,” the group concluded in recommendations issued earlier this year.

While I’m no fan of the current individual mandate, I found the fact that it is being advertised so little this open enrollment period very upsetting. The whole point of the mandate is to constantly scare/coerce people into buying coverage, but that only works if you are aggressively reminding people of the mandate.

I understand why the Obama administration might not want to heavily highlight the mandate given how unpopular it is, but they have fought to include it so they are obligated to constantly talk about it. Having an individual mandate that the government isn’t aggressively warning people about is the worst of all possible policy. It doesn’t achieve the stated policy goals of the mandate and serves only as a big surprise tax on people.

The Obama team has the duty to either drop the mandate or promote it heavily. Moving the open enrollment period to tax season would definitely be a good way to draw extra attention to it.
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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com