The individual mandate, Obamacare’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance that includes “minimum essential coverage,” has been in effect for two weeks now. No one has noticed because nothing has happened. But it will.
The mandate is the heart of Obamacare; without it, supporters believe, the system won’t work. So the Obama administration hopes millions of Americans will voluntarily comply with the mandate and purchase government-approved coverage. If they don’t do it voluntarily, they’ll be punished.
Starting next year, the government will collect a penalty — the administration calls it a “shared responsibility payment” — from Americans who don’t go along with the Obamacare edict. The penalty starts small — just $95 per adult and $47.50 per child this year — but could conceivably reach thousands of dollars per family per year once the fee scale is fully in effect.
The threat of coercion lies behind the entire Obamacare scheme. The question for the coming year is, how coercive will the government be?
The Democrats who wrote the Affordable Care Act in 2009 gave the Internal Revenue Service power to collect Obamacare penalties. Many Americans are quite familiar with how coercive the IRS can be. Fearing public opposition to IRS threats, the law’s authors forbade the IRS from bringing criminal charges or seizing houses and property from those who don’t buy government-defined “minimum essential coverage.” But Democrats still gave the IRS significant authority.