Is not taking a health care subsidy from the government an effective form of protesting?

At least a few Americans are refusing to take government subsidies for healthcare when they are eligible:

Her sentiment is unusual, but brokers say they do hear from clients who are eligible for subsidies – which are based on household income and not assets – but want no part of them. Health officials have been boasting that 6.6 million people have enrolled in health coverage through state or federal marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act, but in sharp contrast stands a small group of Americans who say they want nothing to do with the plans, even if they would save money. Their reasons vary: Some are protesting Obamacare, while others simply feel it’s unethical to accept taxpayer dollars to pay for health insurance.

“It’s almost a philosophical or political statement,” says Gerry Wedig, a professor at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School.

For Brewer, buying a plan on her own would mean she would not have enough to pay for housing, she says, so she chose not to be insured this year and will have to pay a penalty in her 2016 tax filing that is likely to be 2 percent of her income. She has no dependents, is healthy, does not use prescriptions and says she has been careful about her health choices, not overusing medical care…

Complicating the ethical question is that some people who qualify for subsidies based on their income could afford to pay their own way. “There is no question that we are enrolling people through these programs who would otherwise be considered middle-class or even affluent,” says Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow for health policy studies at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation think tank. “We are seeing people with enrollment in these programs that have significant assets, but for whatever reason – usually a temporary reason – fall below the income line.”

This sounds like an interesting form of protest. How many people turn down free money? Would the same people not take other tax breaks? While I understand the interest in standing on principle, I would want to ask two further questions: (1) how would anyone know that you are taking this stand (would these people go around boasting about their principled stands or encourage media attention?) and (2) is this an effective method for bringing about desired social change. It seems like this sort of stand might not go very far…

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