Health Reform: So much for the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act. Looks like ObamaCare premiums will rocket next year while sky-high deductibles make it too costly for many to see the doctor.

Last Monday, IBD’s Jed Graham broke the news that big insurers in six states “are seeking to raise rates an average 18.6% next year.”

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee — which currently accounts for 70% of the ObamaCare enrollees in that state — is looking to increase premiums a whopping 36.3%.

CareFirst — which has 80% of the ObamaCare enrollees in Maryland — is pushing for a 30% increase.

Oregon’s Moda Health wants a 25.6% increase, on average, for the roughly half of ObamaCare enrollees it covers in the state.

The Wall Street Journal followed up on Graham’s reporting later in the week, noting that New Mexico’s market leader, Health Care Service, wants an average 51.6% boost in premiums.

The IRS cannot be sure that Americans who lacked health insurance last year have complied with Obamacare’s “individual mandate” penalty this tax season, according to an inspector general report Friday that pointed to a decision to delay proof-of-coverage forms from insurers and employers until 2016.

Agency managers told the Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration that a “business decision was made to not develop processes and procedures” to ensure compliance after it decided in 2013 to delay the pair of forms. The documents are sent to both filers and the IRS, allowing the federal government to cross-check what filers say on their returns.

“The transition relief was intended to give the insurer time to adapt its health coverage and reporting systems to comply with the [Affordable Care Act],” the IG report said. The same was true for employers.

Obamacare’s health exchanges did report 2014 insurance details for its customers on a form known as the 1095-A, although more than 800,000 customers on the federal HealthCare.gov portal received ones with errors.

Almost two-thirds of enrollees receiving advance premium tax credit (APTC) in Marketplaces had to pay back an average of $729 of the tax credits they received in 2014, according to H&R Block, reducing these enrollees’ average tax refund by 33%. Approximately one in four enrollees with APTC received a refund, averaging $425, which represented an increase in their refunds of approximately 18%. A smaller percentage, almost 13%, of those with APTC had no repayment or refund due, meaning they estimated their 2014 income accurately. Finally, the average payment due for those who did not maintain coverage during all or a portion of the 2014 benefit year was approximately $178. A previous study by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated, based on tracking income changes typical of the subsidy-eligible population, that taxpayers receiving APTC were about as likely to owe some repayment (50%) as receive a refund (45%), and found that the average repayment ($794) and refund ($773) were similar.

Most filers who received government subsidies to buy Obamacare plans had to pay money back to the IRS this year, according to an H&R Block analysis released Monday that looks at the health law’s first full tax season.
The tax-prep giant studied its own massive customer base and concluded that two-thirds of its filers who got subsidies from Obamacare were overpaid during the course of the year, and owed money back to the IRS on the April 15 deadline.

A new analysis from Avalere finds that the penalties associated with the individual mandate, which grow in 2015, might be too low to attract enrollment, particularly among middle-income, healthy individuals.

Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that 68,000 people enrolled in exchange coverage through HealthCare.gov as part of a special enrollment period for individuals paying the individual mandate penalty on their 2014 tax filings. That lackluster uptake of the special enrollment period is driven, in part, because for most people individual mandate penalties are much lower than actual costs of coverage.

Some consumers are willing to pay the penalty for not having health insurance because it is cheaper than getting coverage, according to a new analysis.

The analysis from research firm Avalere Health details one reason why the administration has done so poorly in a special enrollment period for Obamacare. So far only 68,000 people have signed up for the period that ends April 30.

This is the period set aside for people who are getting hit by the law’s new tax on Americans who do not have health insurance packages. Affected taxpayers must still pay the 2014 penalty but could avoid the higher 2015 penalty by getting coverage by the deadline.

But it turns out many uninsured workers would rather pay the tax, because it will cost less than buying insurance.

The IRS shifted around substantial resources and manpower to implement the Affordable Care Act while its overall operations and taxpayer assistance suffered, according to a Republican staff report released by the House Ways and Means committee.

The findings, released Wednesday (April 22), follow a stressful tax season for the Treasury Department, as it handled nearly 1 million people who received incorrect 1095-A forms that used the wrong data to calculate health insurance exchange enrollees’ subsidies due to a technological code glitch. Taxpayers were told they owed or were owed the wrong amount for their tax return; the IRS said those affected did not have to refile if they had already done so.

“To date, the IRS has spent over $1.2 billion on implementation of the ACA,” the report says. “In fiscal year 2014, the IRS spent $386.6 million on the ACA, including $12.1 million from the taxpayer-services account and $185.7 million from its user-fee account.”

WASHINGTON (AP) – The IRS’ overloaded phone system hung up on more than 8 million taxpayers this filing season as the agency cut millions of dollars from taxpayer services to help pay to enforce President Barack Obama’s health law.

For those who weren’t disconnected, only 40 percent actually got through to a person. And many of those people had to wait on hold for more than 30 minutes, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Wednesday.

The number of disconnected callers spiked just as taxpayers were being hit with new requirements under the health law. Last year, the phone system dropped 360,000 calls, Koskinen said.

For the first time, taxpayers had to report whether they had health insurance last year on their tax returns. Those who received government subsidies had to respond whether they received the correct amount. People without insurance faced fines, collected by the IRS, if they did not qualify for an exemption.

(Reuters) – If the U.S. Supreme Court blows up the tax subsidies at the heart of Obamacare in June, Republicans hope to deliver on their promise to offer an alternative healthcare plan.

But key parts of it may resemble the one President Barack Obama delivered five years ago in the Affordable Care Act, partly reflecting Republican concerns that they could pay a political price if insurance subsidies are yanked from millions of Americans later this year.

Two front-running Republican options at an early stage in Congress include a refundable tax credit that experts say is virtually the same thing as the Obamacare tax subsidy being challenged before the Supreme Court. Republicans deny that their ideas are tantamount to “Obamacare Lite” but acknowledge they will need bipartisan support for their plans to stand any chance of avoiding an Obama veto.

The tax filing season has uncovered lingering wrinkles in the 2010 health-care law that have caused headaches for consumers who incorrectly estimated their income, didn’t use a government exchange to buy an insurance plan or changed coverage during the year.

Marta Chapman saw her anticipated $850 federal refund wiped out because she received too much in advance tax credits in 2014 to pay her insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act. That prompted her to drop her plan for this year.

“I canceled because I was very upset. To me it was kind of a trick,” said the 48-year-old personal-care aide in Aztec, N.M. “If I knew that, I wouldn’t have got the insurance.”

Federal officials said they have been working hard to help people get used to the law’s system of financial help to pay health premiums, and will continue to try to make it easier for them. They said the Treasury Department had estimated the vast majority of people who got tax credits would still have some tax refund, on net.

“This is the first year that health insurance and taxes intersect,” said Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Their tax credit may end up being bigger or smaller than expected, depending on what the person’s income was, but in every case, it is a tax credit from the federal government to lower the cost of their health care. We’re committed to listening and learning along the way so that we can improve.”

The law’s architects wanted the system to be fair, precise and well regulated. They tailored premium subsidies to the cost of insurance for people based on their age, local area and their household income for the year they have the insurance plan.