ABSTRACT

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) employs personal income tax credits and surcharges to enforce its mandate for health insurance coverage. This initiative depends largely on the use of tax incentives to increase participation by young adults who are relatively healthy and have voiced concerns over the expected costs and benefits of obtaining mandated coverage. Consistent with these concerns, we find in an experimental setting that so-called “young invincibles” largely base their decisions to purchase insurance on the expected costs of coverage and the perceived likelihood of illness or injury, but are relatively unmotivated by tax incentives in the forms featured in current legislation. Tax incentive structures not featured in the ACA show some ability to motivate young invincibles, but the effect is not incremental to simple price reductions. In contrast, older and more experienced participants exhibit less sensitivity to premium costs and respond favorably to tax incentives, regardless of form.

JEL Classifications: H20; H24; I13.

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