The leading Republican plan to replace Obamacare could end up with many more people being penalized — and for more money — for failing to have health insurance than are currently fined under the current system.
A new analysis finds that 30 million Americans are at risk of the financial penalty for failing to maintain continuous health insurance coverage that is contained within the bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act.
The Republican plan would require anyone who has a lapse in their coverage of longer than 63 days in the prior year to pay their insurer a penalty equal to 30 percent of the premium of the individual or small group health plan they are purchasing.
The Commonwealth Fund, which produced the analysis, said there were 30 million working-age adults who reported having a gap in insurance coverage that was longer than three months.
"Excluding people who never had insurance, 21 million adults might have been subject to the penalty," wrote the Commonwealth Fund's Sara Collins and Munira Gunja.
The GOP proposal to penalize uninsured people when they sign up after a coverage gap is different than the way penalties are applied under Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act.
Obamacare imposes a tax penalty on people who fail to have health coverage of some kind unless they qualify for an exemption. That penalty for 2016 — which is due with the filing of tax returns this year — was the higher of $695, or 2 percent of household income.
For the 2015 tax year, 6.1 million income tax filers paid an Obamacare penalty, with the average fine being $452. Another 12 million people filed forms claiming exemptions from the mandate to have insurance.