Poll: Many uninsured are unaware of individual mandate

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The mandate is one of the law’s most politically unpopular provisions, but it serves one of the law’s most important goals. The mandate was designed to push young, healthy people into the system, offsetting the costs of guaranteeing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

The individual mandate is set to take effect Jan. 1, at the same time it becomes illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

There are significant exemptions from the individual mandate, including exemptions for people who cannot afford insurance even with help from a new tax credit.