If you like your health care insurance fines, you can keep your health care insurance fines

After President Barack Obama (D) smugly patted himself on the back Friday at his last press conference before zipping off on his taxpayer-subsidized vacation, congratulating his administration and himself for the wondrous state of affairs under his presidency, including health care, reality hit.  Hard.

People are oh so eagerly signing up for health care insurance, according to Obama.  Hmmm...not quite.  In this democracy, people are signing up because they're forced to.  The IRS, which might lose its own e-mails but will never lose your tax return, must know about your health insurance as well as your income.  But don’t worry; it is not a hidden tax.  President Obama said so.

As The Hill bluntly stated:

ObamaCare fines loom for uninsured

People without insurance are running out of time to avoid the hefty ObamaCare penalties that the IRS will be handing down in 2016.

Consumers face a Feb. 15, 2015, deadline to buy insurance, after which those without coverage could be hit with fines of $325 per adult or 2 percent of family income, whichever is higher.

Uninsured people looking to escape the penalties are turning to the exchanges before they close, while insurance companies and tax preparers are seizing on the looming tax hit as a business opportunity. (snip)

Last fall, issuers were hesitant to mention the mandate as technical glitches plagued HealthCare.gov and stopped some consumers from enrolling.

The penalties for going without health insurance were also more modest, with uninsured people due to pay $95 per adult or 1 percent of family income this tax season. Under the second-year enrollment rules, families that forgo insurance could end up owing $1,000 or more.

Tax preparation companies are touting their expertise in handling the IRS’s ObamaCare rules as they gear up for a new filing season.

Part of the pitch is helping consumers avoid the mandate through an exemption if they are eligible. 

A variety of hardship qualifications makes this route possible for many people, including those who experienced the death of a close relative, had their previous health plan canceled or saw an increase in necessary expenses due to caring for an aging family member.  (snip)

Almost half of U.S. adults are unaware they must report their health insurance status on their 2014 tax returns, according to a TurboTax survey released earlier this month.

And while about three in five uninsured people know the law penalizes people without coverage, nearly 90 percent do not realize the 2014 deadline has already passed.

OK, now you know.  But why bother working?  As mentioned, insurance companies and tax preparers – and didn't you always use the latter when purchasing health insurance? – are guiding consumers "to avoid the mandate."  And thanks to Medicaid's eligibility expansion, enrollment in Medicaid has gone up dramatically to help you bypass the mandate, as CNBC explains explains.

... sign-ups for Medicaid have been even greater, in no small part due to another part of the Affordable Care Act.

Since October 2013, enrollment in Medicaid and the related Children's Health Insurance Program had grown by about 9.7 million people as of this past October, according to data released Thursday by the federal government. That's 17 percent higher than what was the average monthly enrollment level seen from July through September 2013.

That bump brings total enrollment in the programs that provide coverage without a premium charge to the poor and young, respectively, up to 68.5 million people nationally. A bit more than half of those people are children.

So buy your health insurance.  Or else!