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Health Care Reform: More Than One-Fourth Of Americans Expect To Pay The Mandate Tax, Survey Finds

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Wondering why so many Americans so passionately oppose the new health care law? A new poll offers an explanation: Many believe that they'll be on the hook to pay higher taxes under the Affordable Care Act.

Twenty-six percent of Americans expect to pay the individual mandate tax associated with health care reform, according to a national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted in late July and released Tuesday.

Yet under the new law an estimated 2 percent of Americans will likely wind up paying the "individual mandate," a penalty levied upon those who don't carry any insurance, according to the Urban Institute. (Hat tip: the Washington Post's Wonkblog.)

Wording may be part of the issue. When the same poll asked if they expect to pay a health reform "fine," only 12 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative.

The individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2010, will require Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014 that will amount to $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater. The amount is slated to grow in later years.

Most Americans won't pay the tax because they're already insured--45 percent of adults receive health insurance from their employer and many others are, or will be, covered by government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

For the uninsured, the law offers subsidies to help pay for health insurance. Americans who cannot find an affordable health insurance program will be exempt from the tax.

Seventeen percent of Americans were uninsured last year, according to Gallup.

The expectation of higher taxes probably has made Americans more opposed to health care reform. Sixty-three percent of Americans said in the Kaiser poll that they view the requirement to have health insurance or pay a tax unfavorably.

The Supreme Court upheld health care reform's individual mandate as a tax in a 5-to-4 decision in June.

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