By PF Louis
There have been more problems with the Affordable Care Act’s (a.k.a. Obamacare) ability to live up to its name than anticipated. That first enrollment slowed considerably, “to a crawl,” is what some headlines stated. Then enrollments surged as more were caught in the squeeze of not having insurance and being penalized at tax time for that by the IRS.
Although there are options for short-term individual or group health insurance coverages in lieu of not being enrolled in Obamacare, those insurance providers may likely be outside the Affordable Care Act’s sanctioned state marketplace venues. Thus, many are still affected by the IRS penalties for not being enrolled in Obamacare.
Let’s look over those IRS penalties known as the Obamacare Tax Penalties, which are supposed to be taken by the IRS out of tax refunds and rebates if proof of Obamacare-sanctioned insurance is not provided:
2014 = $95 per adult and $47.50 per child per year or 1% of your income (whichever is greater);
2015 = $325 per person and $162.50 per child per year or 2% of your income (whichever is greater);
2016 = $695 per person and $347.50 per child per year or 2.5% of your income (whichever is greater);
2017 = Tax Penalty will increase by the rate of inflation going forward or 2.5% of your income
(http://obamacarefacts.com). Those whose taxable income is below 133% of the federal poverty level are exempt from these penalties.
Perhaps awareness of these IRS penalties, euphemistically called “shared responsibility fees,” and the prospect of being without insurance after having it in place for some time was the motivating force for overcoming the Kafkaesque complexities of signing up for Obamacare that created a late signup surge surpassing the target of 6 million by reaching 7.1 million by the March 31 deadline.
Signing up and choosing a plan is not enrolling
That could turn out to be the you-know-what in the White House Rose Garden celebration punch bowl. On April 1, while celebrating the 7.1 million signups in the Rose Garden Obama crowed, “This law is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s working. The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
Well, there are those congressional opponents who disagree and are still considering pushing for Obamacare’s repeal with valid questions. Even Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who was getting hugs at the celebration ceremony after taking most of the criticism for Obamacare’s early signup glitches, stated that, if the first month’s premium is not paid, the person who signed up is not enrolled.
One of the more fierce opponents to Obamacare, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, cautioned, “We don’t know of course, exactly what they have signed up for, we don’t know how many have paid.” (Emphasis added)
McConnell added, “What we do know is that all across the country our constituents are having an unpleasant interaction with Obamacare. Whether they can sign up for a policy or not, they are discovering, of course, higher premiums, a higher deductible.”
Since those remarks, information from each state is revealing that approximately half of those who did sign up with a chosen program have not paid the first month’s premium. So almost half of that 7.1 million may not be valid.
Another pitfall may revolve around the types of signups. The Affordable Care Act was ostensibly supposed to help the over 40 million uninsured get coverage, whether they were initially inhibited by low finances or prior health conditions or whatever else could render one uninsured.
So far, it seems that most Obamacare signups are from the previously insured who feel that they can’t be without it. Also, many more, three- to fourfold, are signing up for the Platinum coverage than anticipated. Platinum covers 90% of all medical costs. This could burden the Obamacare providers with too many payments
With the complexities of signing up before the deadline, some who were rushed into Obamacare with higher premiums than they could afford or higher deductibles due to errors from rushed enrollments were instructed to appeal and get any errors adjusted.
But The Washington Post reports that HealthCare.gov cannot keep up with the thousands of errors being appealed.
So despite the crowing and back-slapping, there is still a good chance for the cries of “repeal Obamacare” to resume. Maybe this whole boondoggle misrepresentation of universal healthcare will crumble before it’s repealed.
Sources for this article include:
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