SWEAT

Jason Pye:

In the weeks since the ObamaCare exchanges went lives, the number of uninsured Americans who say that will pay the individual mandate tax rather than purchase health insurance coverage has risen, according to the latest poll from Gallup.

Uninsured Americans are still overwhelmingly unfamiliar with the exchanges, though the number has slightly declined since Gallup polled the issue last month. According to the poll, 71% are either “not too familiar” or “not familiar at all” with the exchanges, down marginally from 72% in September.

More uninsured Americans (73%) say they are aware of the individual mandate, which requires them to purchase health insurance coverage, up from 68% last month. Just 26% say they are unaware of the individual mandate.

I read a quote years ago which stuck with me well enough to give you the gist of it, but not so well that I can Google it for attribution. It’s something like, “Show me a man’s incentives, and I’ll tell you how he behaves.” Let’s look at ObamaCare’s three major incentives.

• The law’s punishments — up to 1% of income, which is a fraction of what health insurance costs — incentivize individual buyers into becoming lawbreakers.

• The execution of the law — the web-based “exchanges” — further incentivize healthy people into staying out.

• The results of the law — the “death spiral” of rising rates due to the first two items — will incentivize even people who have signed up (there are a few, reportedly) into dropping out.

The irony is, the Administration’s major incentive right now is to not fix the exchanges, because those failures of execution are doing a fine job so far of masking ObamaCare’s larger, systemic failures.