This disparity between penalty and the cost of health insurance is driving people to enroll in indemnity plan, discount health care plans, and the health care sharing programs. None of these programs are a substitute for real health insurance. But if a family can save $20,000, even after paying the penalty for not having coverage, that sort of cash goes a long way to meeting basic living expenses in California, plus a few trips to urgent care. And if the family is not subject to the penalty because the coverage is considered unaffordable, the individual mandate penalty is moot.
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