IRS to enforce health coverage with "honor system"
Much hot air has been blown about the tyranny that will ensue once the Internal Revenue Service starts enforcing the requirement in Obamacare for almost everybody to have health insurance coverage. Republicans hallucinated about the "15,000" IRS agents that would enforce the law. People went on about "brownshirts" etc. Actually, the enforcement provisions look too weak. The only way this plan is going to work is if young people sign up to subsidize the older and sicker. But the risks of not buying health insurance look minimal.
First, the penalties to be assessed are probably far less than what coverage will cost. Second, it looks like the IRS is not exactly going to be keeping a hawk eye. This accounting blog says it'll basically be an honor system. Libertarians (!!) Megan McArdle and Tyler Cowen suggest the mandate is too weak.
Here is a description of the penalties from the Joint Committee on Taxation:
The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.