For all the discussion of Obamacare since its passage, it is too rarely known that the law effectively split the United States’ individual insurance market in two.
One group of Americans — about 8 million enrollees in 2017 — now pay, on average, less than a quarter of the cost of their health insurance, receiving ever-growing taxpayer subsidies to insulate them from Obamacare’s high premiums. But there is a second group of Americans who have faced the full premium increases driven by the law’s broken regulations. Roughly 5 million Americans, as of 2017, have chosen to pay those premiums without any subsidies, while another 28 million Americans remain uninsured, many priced out of coverage entirely… Read More at The Kansas City Star
The subsidies Obamacare provides to help people pay for coverage, and the penalties for those who remain uninsured, have not coaxed enough young, healthy people into the insurance marketplaces it created. So the pool of customers in some parts of the country is too sick and too small.
The fix is actually very straightforward: We need to increase the generosity of its subsidies.
Sometimes a policy was just a bad idea from the get-go, and spending more will just throw good money after bad. But sometimes a policy was a perfectly workable idea, and we just didn’t spend enough on it.
A number of wealthy individuals, some of whom were “disgusted” with Obamacare when it first went into effect, nonetheless are now taking advantage of federal financial aid available under that health-care law to help significantly reduce their monthly insurance premiums.
On May 8 of this year, USA Today ran a story describing how Obamacare has actually hurt, not helped Kentucky hospitals, forcing some to close. Now comes a new account in The Washington Times describing that an adverse ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in King v. Burwell could automatically mean that “healthier consumers would likely drop coverage first, sending insurance markets into a tailspin in affected states.”
The Washington Times article by Tom Howell, Jr. (online, 6/16) cites a recent response by Families USA, a group which advocates for high quality and affordable healthcare in the U.S. “[A] ruling could be hard on southern states, and particularly Florida, which is home to about a fifth of the 6.4 million Americans who rely on subsidies to afford plans bought on the federal HealthCare.gov website under Obamacare.”
Howell’s Washington Times story also cites Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida. He claims some 91,000 of his constituency could see their tax credits disappear. Concurrently, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is looking at 84,000 individuals receiving healthcare which is subsidized – – via Obamacare – – who could be adversely impacted.
The recent Families USA report also claims 459,000 individuals in North Carolina and some 412,000 in Georgia could also see their subsidies evaporate, according to Howell’s Washington Times report.
A new report in The National Review Online (May 7, by Brendan Bordelon) describes a “For thee but not for me” scenario when it comes to members of Congress and Obamacare. Specifically, ACA rules applying to some, but not to others. According to Bordelon’s report, approximately one week before a scheduled vote on a subpoena for: “Congress’ fraudulent application to the District of Columbia’s health exchange – the document that facilitated Congress’ ‘exemption’ from Obamacare by allowing lawmakers and staffers to keep their employer subsidies,” some Republican leaders covertly advocated that senators yank their support for such a subpoena.
According to Bordelon’s National Review account, “The application said Congress employed just 45 people.” Bordelon’s report also says, “To Small Business Committee chairman David Vitter, who has fought for years against the Obamacare exemption, it was clear that someone in Congress had falsified the document in order to make lawmakers and their staff eligible for taxpayer subsidies provided under the exchange for small-business employees.”
Michael Cannon, who heads up health studies at Cato is quoted as saying by The National Review, “The most powerful interest group in Washington, D.C. is not the Chamber or the unions or anyone else. It is members of Congress and their staffs. And when it comes to their benefits, they are all members of the same party.”
According to a fresh report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (online, Apr. 29) – – (citing a Reuters story by Caroline Humer) the major U.S. health insurer, Aetna, has been submitting 2016 insurance rates geared to individuals, to state regulators. But Aetna is now also wary that it may need to examine such rate proposals following the U.S. Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling (in late June, of this year) in the case of Burwell vs. King. Pointedly, the St. Louis post Dispatch report says, “The court’s decision could affect an estimated 7 million people who receive subsidies to help pay for the plans and may not be able to afford insurance otherwise. Industry experts say insurers would probably need to raise their rates further if many people do not buy medical coverage after losing subsidies.”
An update on how a U.S. Supreme Court ruling could severely impact small business in America: The Boston Herald’s Kimberly Atkins (online 4/28) says, “Lawmakers have been scrambling to put legislative fixes in place of the court ruling, expected in June. Last week Senate GOP leaders, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, R-Ky., signed on to a bill by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., that would extend the federal subsidies through 2017 should the court rule against the administration.” One of the key issues remaining for small business is that of Obamacare subsidies. Atkins’ Boston Herald report elaborates, “For those covered through the federal exchange, David Chase, national health care policy director at the advocacy group Small Business Majority, said, ’This is a really big deal, because small business owners are self-employed and they rely on these subsidies.’”
If Obamacare doesn’t bill you or your estate, following death, it will while you’re alive. Some of the charges for ACA-based or related coverage and care may cause some to feel an appreciable level of sticker shock when all is said and done. Especially during and after tax season.
A recent report on CNBC (online, Apr. 13) relates the story of Mike Highsmith – who “was one many Obamacare financial-aid recipients in 2014 who didn’t know their plans were being subsidized,” according to CNBC healthcare reporter Dan Mangan.
Mangan’s CNBC report quotes Highsmith as saying, at one point, “I wasn’t very happy.” The reason for the 61 year old former flight attendant’s unhappiness? Following his taxes having been prepared, “he has to pay back every cent of the $6,624 in federal subsidies that helped pay the lion’s share of his HealthCare.gov-purchased plan,” according to CNBC.
Yet, for those with real incomes being lower than what they had calculated while applying for health coverage, they will fall under the category of not having to pay money back at tax time.
CNBC also says, “[a]bout 5 percent will neither owe back any part of their subsidy nor get more money in the way of a subsidy for last year.“
Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., finds fault with Republicans in Congress coming up with their versions of the Affordable Care Act. Which, according to the Hill, “he warns will only make the law ‘more entrenched.’” Meanwhile Sarah Ferris’ online report (Mar. 3) says Republicans in both the House and Senate have developed their own “contingency plans,” in case of a Plaintiff’s victory in the matter of King v. Burwell, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. If the plaintiffs win, it would mean the court would toss “$25 billion of Obamacare subsidies in states that didn’t set up their own insurance marketplaces,” Ferris’ Hill report says.
Some of the Republican Obamacare alternatives call for the establishment of tax credits and other types of monetary aid to help literally millions of people who could possibly find themselves facing significantly increasing healthcare expenditures. Republicans claim on this point claim they have “a great deal of consensus,” according the Ferris, who also adds, “The effort is intended to make it easier for the court to strike down the subsidies, since Republicans believe the justices are more likely to rule in their favor if they believe a plan is in place to limit the fallout. But Jindal criticized their planning as “a ‘solution’ in search of a problem.” Jindal adds, “Americans would pay billions more in higher taxes to fund the newly-restored subsidies, making Obamacare that much more entrenched.”