Posted by Natalie Johnson / @nataliejohnsonn / October 16, 2015
An Indiana man’s IRS bill went viral after he posted a photograph to his Facebook page of a $2,344 fine he claimed was from the federal government for not purchasing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Benjamin Miller said his insurance skyrocketed after President Barack Obama’s health care law took effect so he decided to forgo enrollment, provoking the claimed hefty fine from the IRS for violating the law’s individual mandate.
In the Facebook post, withheld because it contains personal information, Miller said the plan for him and his family cost $398 a month prior to Obamacare’s implementation. In 2014, after the law took effect, his insurance soared to $1,400 a month.
“So I chose not to pay $1,400 a month so [I] got a nice little fine,” Miller wrote in the Facebook post. “Thanks Obama for the fine for not having insurance … Thanks for the Affordable Care Act. Thanks for making it so affordable!”
Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy at The Heritage Foundation, said one of the main criticisms of the mandate since its introduction is that the fine is initially set so low that it is cheaper for people with middle or lower-middle incomes—particularly those who are young, healthy and without dependents—to pay the fine than to buy the health coverage. Last year, roughly 7.5 million Americans opted to pay the fine rather than purchase coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to the IRS.
Haislmaier said the mandate remains “extremely unpopular” among Americans, with bipartisan opposition spanning across ideologies. “A lot of the people who are on the more conservative end of the political spectrum view this as an infringement on their personal liberty,” Haislmaier said. “Whereas people, even on the very left end of the political spectrum, have a dislike of private insurance and really resent the government forcing them to buy private coverage when they would much rather have a government, single-payer program.”
He said this opposition is likely to continue, particularly because these penalties are scheduled to increase.
Ubon Mendie, a spokesman for the IRS, said he could not confirm the authenticity of Miller’s photograph.
“Federal law would prohibit any federal employee from actually speaking about that,” Mendie said.