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Opinion
Caroline Baum

Make Obamacare Cool, or Make It Hurt

President Obama doesn't seem to understand that he has failed to provide the right incentives in his health-care plan.

Instead of outreach programs and sappy TV ads with parents imploring their kids to sign up for Obamacare, President Barack Obama needs to start thinking creatively if he wants his signature legislative achievement to be a success. What motivates kids? In fact, what motivates any of us?

Incentives. This White House has failed to grasp what makes individuals and businesses tick. Whether it's taxes or regulations, Obama doesn't understand the basis of a capitalist economy. Whoever was responsible for setting the Accountable Care Act penalty-- a tax, according to the Supreme Court -- wasn't thinking because it's much too low: $95 a person, or 1 percent of taxable income, whichever is greater, beginning next year. The penalty rises sharply after that. But if the point is to create an onrush of enrollees at the start, the penalty rate is cheaper for many young, healthy individuals than the premium cost of a health-care policy.