A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Taxes"

Megan McArdle: Sticker Shock for Some Obamacare Customers

Bloomberg View
Wed, 2015-05-27
So the proposed 2016 Obamacare rates have been filed in many states, and in many states, the numbers are eye-popping. Market leaders are requesting double-digit increases in a lot of places. Some of the biggest are really double-digit: 51 percent in New Mexico, 36 percent in Tennessee, 30 percent in Maryland, 25 percent in Oregon. The reason? They say that with a full year of claims data under their belt for the first time since Obamacare went into effect, they're finding the insurance pool was considerably older and sicker than expected. Don't panic, says Kevin Drum. This is just the opening bid in a regulatory dance that will end up somewhere very different: "A few months from now, the real rate increases — the ones approved by state and federal authorities — will begin to trickle out. They'll mostly be in single digits, with a few in the low teens. The average for the entire country will end up being something like 4-8 percent."
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Stephanie Armour: Health Costs Hinge on Supreme Court Ruling

The Wall Street Journal
Wed, 2015-05-27
After the Affordable Care Act kicked in, Michael Kole’s monthly health-insurance premium to cover himself and his family grew to $848 from $513. Like others, he wasn’t happy about it. “It’s taking a lot out of pocket,” he said. The 52-year-old sales and marketing entrepreneur is one of millions of Americans who earn too much to qualify for government subsidies on policies purchased through the federal insurance exchange. To save...
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Chris Matthews: Got Obamacare? Your premiums are (probably) about to go way up

Fortune
Tue, 2015-05-26
Health insurers on many state exchanges are requesting the right to increase premiums by upwards of 50% President Obama’s signature legislative achievement–the healthcare law popularly known as Obamacare–is facing a potentially existential fight in the Supreme Court in 2015. But it’s not just the courts that supporters of the program need to worry about. According to a report published Friday in the The Wall Street Journal, health insurers are requesting the right in many states to increase premiums by upwards of 50%. Health Care Service Corp.–the leading health insurer in New Mexico, has asked state regulators to allow it to increase its premiums on average by 51.6%, for instance. Customers of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in Maryland may face an average premium increase of 30.4%.
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ObamaCare Is Getting Less Affordable By The Minute

Investor's Business Daily
Tue, 2015-05-26
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.
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Tom Howell Jr: IRS unable to make sure people comply with Obamacare penalty: Treasury IG

The Washington Times
Mon, 2015-05-11
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.
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Average Tax Refunds Reduced by 33% for Marketplace Enrollees with Tax Credits

Manatt, Phelps &Phillips
Wed, 2015-05-06
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.
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Tom Howell: No free ride: Two-thirds of Obamacare recipients had to repay subsidies to IRS

The Washington Times
Tue, 2015-04-28
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.
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Caroline Pearson: Individual Mandate Penalty May Be Too Low to Attract Middle-Income Individuals to Enroll in Exchanges

Avalere
Mon, 2015-04-27
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.
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Robert King: Customers opt for penalty rather than Obamacare

The Washington Examiner
Mon, 2015-04-27
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.
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IRS Under Congressional Fire For Moving Resources To Support ACA Rollout

Inside Health Policy
Fri, 2015-04-24
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.”
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