Although 2.5 million new customers bought insurance through HealthCare.Gov after open enrollment began November 1, 10.5 million people eligible to buy coverage remained uninsured, according to the Obama Administration. One salient reason for the underenrollment may be that people opt to pay the fine for remaining uninsured rather that ante up the huge sums for insurance.

The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study that found roughly seven million people eligible for exchange coverage would save more by eschewing coverage and paying penalties instead. The Kaiser study estimated the average penalty as $661 per uninsured household in 2015 and $969 for 2016 .

But Ben Wakana, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, protested to The New York Times that people should still obtain insurance, asserting, “We understand some people may be thinking through their choice of coverage, but going without health insurance is a serious gamble that can be catastrophic if wrong.”

The Times reported that the total cost of premiums and deductibles for healthy people could reach as high as $10,000 annually, a far cry from the $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of household income that would be levied against non-insured people in 2016.

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