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U.S. Senate leaders can’t be serious about proposed penalties in their health care reform legislation, imposed against those who don’t buy insurance. The fine is so low that if this provision survives, it would almost guarantee the death of the private health insurance market.

Under the Senate bill, individuals would be required to buy health insurance. But the penalty for opting out, so to speak, would be ridiculously low–starting at $95 in 2014 and rising to a still paltry $750 in 2016, with a maximum of $2,250 for a family.

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