My wife and I have health insurance through her job and we never received any kind of fine. And I think the mandate is so often maligned because people are thinking of it in terms of healthcare costs pre-Obamacare. Anyone who has ever had health insurance will speak to the outrageous pricing system, so mandating that everyone pay that amount definitely sounds unfair and insidious. But it doesn't take into account subsidies (the government pays what you can't) nor does it take into account the lowered rates in larger pools of clients. The system is by no means perfect, and there are still growing pains, but the mandate is a far cry from the freedom-ruining monster its opponents claimed it to be.