20 Feb 2018

Trump Administration Continues to Pursue Avenues to Relieve People of the ACA’s Individual Mandate

Trump Administration Continues to Pursue Avenues to Relieve People of the ACA’s Individual Mandate

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare, was signed into law March 2010. The act’s major provisions came into effect in 2014. It was the most sweeping health care reform in America since the passage of Medicaid and Medicare back in 1965. Major changes to the individual insurance marketplace and an expansion of Medicaid Eligibility managed to provide coverage to an estimated twenty to twenty-four million additional people during the year 2016 alone.

In spite of the benefits that have been received by millions under the act, one of the least popular provisions of the act has been the individual mandate. This is a requirement that every American who is not insured through employer-sponsored plans, Medicaid, Medicare, or other private or public program must purchase insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Republicans have been the most vocal opponents of the individual mandate and have fought tooth and nail to find ways to repeal the act altogether, and in particular, eliminate the individual mandate. The Trump administration, through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which was signed in December 2017, has taken a huge leap to chip away at Obamacare. The act repeals the individual mandate as of 2019.

That still leaves 2018 to be dealt with. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has endeavored to work on guidance aimed to increase the exemptions under which people would justifiably not show that they are insured when filing their year-end income tax returns. This could help scores of taxpayers who are still uninsured due to the increased cost of insurance plans under Obamacare. The IRS reports that six and a half million taxpayers paid the fine for not being insured in the year 2015.

The tax penalties can be hefty, starting at $347.50 per child, $695 for adults and going up to as high as $2,085 for a family. There is a cap of 2.5% of family income or the family maximum of $2,085 – whichever would be higher.

Currently, the exemptions to avoid paying the penalty are:

Hardship Exemptions

Those who are homeless, filed for bankruptcy, are facing eviction or a foreclosure or received a notice from a utility company that their service was being shut-off fall under the “Hardship Exemption.”  Additionally, those who suffered domestic violence, the death of a family member or a natural disaster also qualify to be exempt from the mandate.

Other hardships that also qualify for exemption consideration are; a) Tax filers who had medical expenses they couldn’t pay which resulted in substantial debt. b) Those who experienced unforeseen expenses due to caring for a family member who was aging, who was ill or was disabled. c) Your grandfathered individual insurance plan was canceled because it failed to meet the requirement for the ACA. d). Those eligible for subsidies, but the insurance company failed to provide them, and insurance was not available as a result.

Income Related Exemptions

If you don’t earn enough income during the year to be required to file a tax return, you will not have to pay a penalty.

For those whose costs of insurance, whether through a job-based or a Marketplace plan, would cost in excess of 8.16% of the household’s income, can qualify for either the Job-based affordability exemption or the Marketplace affordability exemption.

Group Membership Exemptions

Members of qualified health care sharing ministries will not face penalties.

Members of federally recognized tribes or those eligible for services through an Indian Health Services Provider are also exempt from penalties.

Exemptions Related to Health Coverage

Residents of states that did not expand its Medicaid program and the tax filer’s income falls below 138% of that state’s poverty level are exempt.

Legal Status Based Exemptions

Tax filers will not face penalties if they were incarcerated or residing abroad. U.S. Tax laws apply to all income earners, whether they are here legally or not. Undocumented immigrants must file a return if the minimum earnings threshold to file is met, however, they are excluded from the coverage requirement. They are also unable to obtain insurance through the marketplaces set up by the ACA.

Over 12 million people qualified under one or another of these exemptions for the tax year 2016. For the tax year 2017 and 2018, it will be even easier to duck the tax penalty. The Internal Revenue Service has backed off on enforcement of the mandate. Obamacare required the IRS to withhold returns if the taxpayer did not provide coverage information on the return. However, they had not enforced it rigorously. The IRS had previously announced that in the tax year 2017, they would step up enforcement, but with president Trump’s pressure, they have now retracted that statement.

It is still unclear what the final list of expanded exemptions will be, the CMS has not announced when they will complete their work on the guidance.

To learn more about qualified plans under Obamacare or Trumpcare, or additional insurance options, contact the experts at HealthQuoteInfo.com at 855-881-0430. Our licensed health insurance experts will be happy to answer any questions you have.

26 Jan 2018

The Impact Of The Tax Bill On Us Health Insurance

The Impact Of The Tax Bill On Us Health Insurance

A major bill was officially passed in both chambers of Congress last month, bringing a sweeping reform to the American tax system. Details of this tax bill have caused a political debate across the nation because it repeals the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

This puts the future of Obamacare in jeopardy once again, as the number of uninsured Americans is intended to rise dramatically over the next year. We know there’s a lot of details floating out there, so we’re diving into this topic to cover the basics.

Background Info

Officially called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, it’s the first significant achievement of the Trump administration since he assumed office. Details of the bill have been in the works for months, as multiple drafts were debated in the Senate. On December 20, 2017, when the bill was officially passed, President Trump held a press conference and said: “it’s always a lot of fun when you win.”

The Affordable Care Act

For months, the government has been trying to pass a repeal-and-replace bill to get rid of Obamacare. This proved to be quite challenging and contentious, as millions of Americans relied on the Affordable Care Act.

Fast-forward to last month and lawmakers had included a portion of the bill that explicitly repeals the individual mandate of the ACA. This means Americans will no longer be financially penalized for not purchasing insurance, meaning healthy individuals don’t need to purchase a plan.

How does this impact the marketplace? Insurance companies benefited from having mandatory enrollment, as it meant more funds could be allocated to the sick to provide health care. This dynamic is now going to change as insurance companies will be forced to increase premiums. An estimate by the Congressional Budget Office predicts the number of uninsured individuals will rise to 13 million people.

Consequences

Some experts have argued this decision is going to take an eventual toll on the Medicaid program, which provides basic health insurance to millions of impoverished Americans. As the price of health insurance increases, more Americans will have to rely on this program.

Tax cuts are also expected to impact the Medicare, which is expected to reduce spending by nearly 4 percent. According to a report by Vox, the last time there was a spending cut to the program, millions of patients lost access to basic treatment services like chemotherapy.

Killing Obamacare

Many political commentators believe this tax bill will ultimately kill Obamacare in the long-run. Earlier in the year, the White House announced the marketing budget of the ACA would be slashed by 90 percent, leaving just $10 million to promote the program.

Opposition

The Democrats have been firmly against this tax reform along with several high profile Republicans. Senator Susan Collins of Maine was a firm opponent because she said it would create chaos in the health insurance marketplace.

The Democratic Party along with several high profile Republicans opposed the tax bill. This included Senator Susan Collins of Maine who voiced her concern about this reform plunging the healthcare marketplace into a state of chaos.

In response to her concerns, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to pass two bipartisan bills to help stabilize the insurance landscape. Several fellow Republicans have voiced their discontent over this idea, as many believed it was redundant to pass two bills to essentially prop up the Affordable Care Act. We’re still waiting to see the outcome of these two bills.

According to Fortune, the tax reform also ushers in the following changes:

  • The corporate tax rate is reduced from 35% to 21%
  • The top tax rate for families and individuals will be reduced 39.6% to 37%
  • The child tax credit will increase from $1,000 to $2,000 for certain families

For more information about health insurance plans, reach out to HealthQuoteInfo at 855-881-0430. Our agents are capable of answering all of your questions and help find a plan that’s suited to your needs.

27 Sep 2017

Chaos on Capitol Hill – Republicans Discard Graham-Cassidy Bill

Chaos on Capitol Hill – Republicans Discard Graham-Cassidy Bill

The proposed Graham-Cassidy bill has lost support from key senior Republicans, meaning it won’t pass a vote that was expected to take place this week.

Over the course of the past 24 hours, Senator Susan Collins from Maine publically declared the bill was “deeply flawed,” according to a report by BBC News. This comes on the heels of President Donald Trump saying he would promise money to the state of Maine in a bid to incentivize Collins.

This news presents itself as a huge setback for the Trump administration and the Republican party, who’ve tried unsuccessfully for months to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Keep in mind, Donald Trump campaigned heavily on the promise to get rid of Obamacare, and this latest information demonstrates that he’s incapable of doing so.

There were other senior Republicans who came out against the bill, which includes Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The main reason why these high-profile senators rejected the proposal is that it slashes Medicaid funding drastically, which serves as an important lifeline for millions of impoverished Americans.

The bill was written by Sens. Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and was seen as a last-ditch effort. This is because a previous bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act was voted down at the beginning of summer, revealing a divide amongst the Republican party.

Details of the Graham-Cassidy bill were murky and very unclear from the beginning. According to several reports in the media, the bill would allow insurance companies to discriminate against individuals based on the pre-existing conditions, which is something Obamacare outlawed.

Public opinion also decreased dramatically for the bill, especially since talk show host Jimmy Kimmel publically condemned the bill and called out Senator Bill Cassidy for allegedly lying on television. The politician had appeared on Kimmel’s show in the past and said he would ensure a new health care bill would protect those with pre-existing conditions.

Cassidy’s appearance came shortly after Kimmel announced his newborn son was born with a rare heart condition and made a public plea that Americans deserve health care equality. A recent CBS poll also indicated that approximately 20 percent of Americans approved of the bill, while a whopping 52 percent were firmly against it.

The Senate held the first meeting on Monday to discuss the proposed bill but it was swarmed by protesters. Approximately 181 people were arrested and removed from the hearing room, while many protesters were reportedly in wheelchairs.

We understand that the health care landscape is extremely complex and confusing. If you have any questions, we strongly recommend phoning one of our agents here at HealthQuoteInfo. Simply dial 855-881-0430 and get your questions answered today!

21 Feb 2017

How Donald Trump’s Presidency Will Affect Health Insurance in 2017

How Donald Trump’s Presidency Will Affect Health Insurance in 2017

During Donald J. Trump’s election campaign, he promised to give Americans a better health reform that will be beneficial for everybody. He promised to make health insurance plans less costly without raising taxes, by using money that is already in the system. So it should not come as a surprise to anyone that he signed an EO to urge his administration to dismantle the Affordable Care Act as soon as possible.

 

But the order by itself will not allow Mr. Trump to completely abolish Obamacare. Keep in mind that any major changes to the health law will need new legislation. Therefore, the EO should be perceived more as a mission statement instead of a mandate that can immediately change the law.

The President and Republican leaders are discussing a feasible replacement for the current health law. He promised the public that his team will create a health care reform that is significantly better than the ACA and would pave the way for insuring more citizens and lowering their health care costs.

In the meantime, here are a few possibilities of what could happen to the ACA in the upcoming few months:

 

  1. The coverage mandate of the ACA will continue to be in effect.

Despite President Trump’s EO which calls for federal agencies to do everything they can to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden,” on businesses and individuals, without approval from the Congress, he does not have the authority to eliminate those requirements.

 

  1. There will be limited changes to the 2017 insurance coverage, if any at all. Individual Exchange Plans have already been approved by the state regulators for the entire year of 2017. Therefore, even if the health law does get repealed, changes in the pricing and benefits of health plans will require approval by the state regulators by the year 2018.

 

  1. Costs will increase immediately.

Although provisions are not likely to change in 2017, insurance premiums may rise especially for those who rely on subsidies to lower their insurance costs.

 

  1. Premiums and coverage will probably change in 2018.

If the ACA gets abolished, it could cause a shift in benefit structures. The current plans may also be canceled and the benefits you enjoy now may no longer be available next year.