Remember that nasty tax surprise that 6 million Americans faced this year when the penalty attached to ObamaCare’s personal mandate kicked in? Turns out it was enough to prompt sizable numbers of Americans who lacked healthcare coverage in 2014 to sign up for coverage this year in two states but not much elsewhere.

California and Washington – two states that ran their own healthcare exchanges – collectively signed up 38,700 people through the end of the special enrollment period ending April 20th. California signed up 22,000 people specifically for the penalty-related waiver (as much as a third of the federal exchange) and Washington signed up more than 16,000 people either were subject to the penalty or had technical problems with the website during open enrollment.

According to officials, most of these people were subject to the fine and wanted to avoid having to pay the fine next year. That’s more than half of the 68,000 people who signed up through the federal exchange that represents 36 states that participated in the special enrollment period. That’s about 2,000 people.

The federal government and states clamored for the open enrollment period for ObamaCare to be extended beyond mid-February. The widespread ignorance about the fine on anyone who didn’t have healthcare coverage prompted states and the federal government to grant extra time for those who decided to sign up after completing their tax filings this year and realizing that they would be hit with a bigger penalty next year. The penalty this year was $95 per adult or 1 percent of taxable household income. That fine more than doubles next year to $325 per adult or two percent of household income.

If the penalty was the same for all tax filers, why did these West Coast states have greater success than the federal government combined?

CNBC reports:

Two states that run their own Obamacare markets—California and Washington—are blowing away the much-larger, federally run when it comes to signing up customers during a tax season grace period. That special enrollment offer is open to people who only just learned they owe a fine for not having health insurance last year.

During the special enrollment season, signed up less than 2,000 people per participating state as of April 13, according to its most recent data.

In contrast, California by April 12 alone signed up 22,659 people specifically for the penalty-related waiver, which is equal to as much as 33 percent of's tally for all 36 participating states.

Washington state signed up more than 16,000 during special enrollment for people who are either subject to the penalty for last year, or who had technical problems signing up during open enrollment, officials said…

Asked why Covered California was outpacing states, [Dana Howard, a spokesman for Covered California] said, "I truly do not have an answer for you about what may be doing."

Michael Marchand, spokesman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, that state's insurance marketplace, said officials suspect that a number of people who were uninsured in 2014 had an "unwelcome surprise" that their tax penalty is 1 percent of household income, and not $95.

At this point, it’s difficult to believe that the President, the architects of ObamaCare, and its advocates actually care about the pain inflicted on individuals by the personal mandate. HHS feigned concern, but in fact, the penalty is one of the strongest marketing tools that the Administration and progressives have in their arsenal to keep this law alive and well.

They can claim that Americans want ObamaCare, but the reality is that they feel like they have no choice and would rather some pain up front by signing up for coverage with the prospect of qualifying for a subsidy rather than seeing their tax returns eaten up by this penalty.

Health experts think that the penalty is still too low and predict that when it more than doubles, we’ll see momentum speed up. That’s nothing to look forward to. It’s like the board game mousetrap. You may dodge the basket only to be snapped by the spring trap. ObamaCare is no different.