updated 9/16/2009 9:45:46 AM ET 2009-09-16T13:45:46

Claim: The Democrats' proposals would require people to pay a fine if they didn't buy insurance.

How can Congress persuade healthy people who choose to go uninsured that they must join an insurance risk pool? Bringing in the healthy uninsured is essential to cost control. "The more healthy people that we can bring in, the lower will be the average cost in that risk pool," said health care economist Linda Blumberg. Democratic proposals such as the Senate Finance Committee bill released Wednesday by chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., would offer subsidies to low- and middle-income families to buy insurance. But critics see fines as coercive and say they would give the government more control over people's lives.

Fact or fiction?
Fact. All three major Democratic proposals include some penalty for individuals who go uncovered. For instance, the Senate Finance Committee proposal would impose a maximum penalty of $3,800 per family. Exemptions would made for individuals where the premium cost of the least expensive insurance available to them exceeded 10 percent of their income. The fines would nudge the healthy to buy coverage and thus reduce the average cost of insurance: More people would be paying premiums, but not necessarily using health care.

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