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Government Hopes Healthy People Sign Up for Health Care Exchanges

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- So many questions about the Affordable Care Act have to do with the unknown, including how many people are actually going to sign up for those health care exchanges. The government is pretty sure those with pre-existing conditions will sign up, but why is it key that healthy people do too?

"Because you want to balance off the pool of risk. You don't want to just have very very sick high-risk individuals buying insurance. You want to make sure you have younger, good risks in there as well," explains Emory University's Dr. Ken Thorpe.

Thorpe says with a penalty of only $95 in the beginning, a lot of people will likely just skip it.

However, he points out, "The key benefit of buying health insurance is to take that uncertainty out about a, you know, a very bad medical event happening and resulting bankruptcy."

The mandate is what made a lot of people mad about the new law -- and that's one reason the penalty at the beginning is so low.

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ABC News Radio