The RFI is not a serious attempt at gathering comments on how to stabilize the health insurance markets across the country. Trump and Price have already set in motion the slow dismantling of regulations that kept the ACA markets relatively stable. This is a thinly veiled attempt to generate regulation gutting suggestions that will further destroy meaningful health insurance for Americans. I can guarantee that any real suggestions that would work to contain health care costs, which are the real driver of ever escalating health insurance premiums, will be ignored.
The similarities between Medicare Advantage plan and the ACA plans through the Marketplace are straight forward. Individuals are enrolling in private ACA health insurance and the federal government is subsidizing part of the cost of the health insurance to make it affordable. One of the main differences is how the federal government reimburses the insurer. Medicare beneficiaries receive an indirect subsidy to purchase a Medicare Advantage plan according to county they live in and based on historical health care cost data. Individuals and families enrolling in a health plan through an Affordable Care Act exchange receive a subsidy based on their income.
Under Secretary Price’s proposed rule, a health insurance company could deny coverage during the open enrollment period if the consumer had a health plan through the company in the prior year, but let the coverage lapse for non-payment. Before the consumer could enroll in the plan, the insurance company could demand payment for those months after the plan was terminated for non-payment.
In order determine how my clients might be affected by the proposed new Premium Tax Credits under the American Heath Care Act (AHCA or Trumpcare) introduced by the Republicans in March 2017, I compared the current income based Premium Tax Credits under the ACA to the new age based tax credits of the AHCA. On average, my clients included in the comparison will lose $157 per month to help pay for their health insurance. Young individuals, under 30 years old, have the smallest change of premium tax credit under the age based rules. Within my clients, people over 55 year old will get hit the hardest losing $200 to $400 per month in premium tax credit assistance.
The Tower Theater in downtown Roseville was the site of a peaceful, but loud, protest demonstration by residents of Republican congressional representative Tom McClintock’s district in Northern California. Rep. McClintock had scheduled one of his Town Hall meetings at the Tower Theater in Roseville. But I don’t think he was prepared for the hundreds of people who turned out to protest his support of President Trump’s Executive orders.
Under an Executive order signed by President Trump on January 20, 2017, he gave federal bureaucracies the discretion and authority to waive any provision of the Affordable Care Act that might impose a fiscal burden on individuals and families. Two of the most prominent fiscal burdens are the repayment of excess Advance Premium Tax Credits and the Shared Responsibility Payment also known as the individual mandate penalty for not having health insurance.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones slammed President Trump’s Executive Order relaxing enforcement of the Affordable Care Acts provisions as potentially destabilizing to the health insurance market.
With all the discussion about congress repealing the Affordable Care Act, there is confusion over what exactly is an Obamacare health plan. Some people think the federal government is dictating the type of health plans that must be sold to individuals and families. It is up to each state to set the rules for their health insurance plans. The federal government under the regulations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stipulates what type of health plans are eligible for the Premium Tax Credits that make health insurance affordable for individuals and families.
Some individuals and families who purchased their health insurance through a government exchange like Healthcare.gov or Covered California may be subject to the Penalty for Underpayment of Estimated Tax. The underpayment penalty is triggered when the federal income tax due is less than 90% of the previous year’s tax liability. If a tax household received thousands of dollars of the monthly Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC) subsidy to lower their health insurance premiums, but earned too much taxable income to actually qualify for the Premium Tax Credit, the tax payer has to repay the entire subsidy. This repayment amount could easily trigger the underpayment penalty.
While Covered California does a great job of marketing their services as an individual and family health insurance marketplace, the ultimate connection of reporting health insurance coverage to the IRS is not a central part of Covered California consumer education.