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.
The special health insurance enrollment period set up for people surprised by their tax penalties hasn’t appeared to increase either awareness or enrollment by much, new research shows.
People who live in the 34 states that use HealthCare.gov and didn’t know about the requirement to have health insurance can sign up through April 30 for 2015 coverage.
But nearly half of people planning to file taxes said they had heard nothing or very little about the requirement to report whether they have insurance on their tax return, according to new research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation..
“Very few people are reacting to the news by insuring,” said Kathy Hempstead, who directs insurance coverage issues at RWJF.
“So far it doesn’t seem we’re seeing this mass teachable moment.”
A new report shows that as the United States’ tax system grows more complicated because of Obamacare regulations, the economy is taking more of a hit.
According to data from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), complying with the federal income tax cost the economy about $234 billion in productivity last year.
The group came to that figure by adding the out-of-pocket cost of tax preparation assistance ($31.7 billion) and the estimated cost of $202.1 billion due to lost labor hours Americans spent dealing with their 2013 tax returns that were filed in 2014.
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The economic hit was lower than the previous year by almost $10 billion, and the NTUF concludes that “was an anomaly.”
The increase to this year’s figure, according to the NTUF, stems from the Affordable Care Act and the mountain of paperwork it has created at the IRS.
“Looking deeper at NTUF’s research, there is one big reason to think this could be the beginning of a trend in the wrong direction: 3,322 pages of legal guidance for Obamacare (or the ACA) added to IRS.gov (1,077 pages of regulations, 1,377 pages of Treasury decisions, 669 notices, 100 revenue procedures, and 12 revenue rulings),” the report reads.
“Essentially, Obamacare is coming home to roost.”
As millions of Americans scramble to file their tax returns, many are shocked by the full cost of ObamaCare’s individual mandate.
“Those who failed to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage last year will have had to send the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a check for $1,130, on average,” Doug Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, testified today before a congressional hearing.
An estimated 6.3 million people will be required to pay a penalty this year because they didn’t buy qualifying health insurance in 2014, Holtz-Eakin testified. Another 30 million people didn’t buy the mandated coverage either but won’t have to pay the penalty because of the myriad exemptions the Obama administration is allowing, with or without legal justification.
Holtz-Eakin, now president of the American Action Forum, based his calculations on the number of people who will pay the penalty and the average value of the penalty, using demographic information from the American Community Survey and enrollment statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This year’s new analysis of tax complexity from National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) found some startling lead figures: a $234 billion cost to the economy due to 6.1 billion lost hours of productivity and $32 billion spent out-of-pocket to comply with America’s insanely complicated tax system.
As always, there is much more to the story.
Since 2010, tax complexity costs have remained sky-high, at well over $200 billion each year. From fiscal year 2005 to 2013, the Treasury’s paperwork burden rose from 6.4 billion hours to 7 billion hours never making up less than 74 percent of the burden imposed by all government agencies combined.
While last year’s (covering 2013) totals actually trended downward compared to the previous year (2012), there was little reason to believe that was the beginning of a trend toward continued relief.