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But your premium is paid to the insurance company, not the federal government.

Of course premiums are paid to the insurance companies; for better or worse they're still the ones providing the insurance. I guess I'm missing the point you're trying to make here.

Look, the system is still funded by premiums -- the whole point of the mandate is to get more people into the system to pay premiums to cover the costs of expanding the insurance pool. The government is willing to subsidize some premiums but not others. If you don't qualify for subsidies / small business credits / any other offsets, you are going to be supporting more of the issuance pool out of your pocket than those who do qualify. It's pretty straight forward.