Thursday’s announcement by the White House that it was “tweaking” ObamaCare in order to keep some taxpayers from being penalized even after they purchased insurance obscured the vastly greater problems facing the new federally mandated healthcare program.
The vice president of the tax firm Jackson Hewitt, Brian Haile, first noted that it was possible, even likely, that taxpayers enrolling in ObamaCare in March, well before the deadline, might wind up having to pay the tax penalty anyway, because of a quirk in the act’s labyrinthine language. The coverage would only become effective on April 1, meaning that he didn't have coverage for three months: January, February, and March. And that would trigger a tax penalty.
The White House agreed and announced on Thursday that the end of the enrollment period and the start of the mandate period now have the same date: March 31. Translation: Anyone applying late in March won’t be penalized. This effectively gives taxpayers an extra six weeks to sign up without being fined.
That will hardly solve any of the major issues taxpayers will be facing as ObamaCare moves forward. For instance, an estimated 16 million people already carrying individual health insurance policies will discover that they won’t be able to keep them, despite the president’s promise back in July 2009:
Let me be exactly clear about what health care reform means to you. First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.
Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.
But “they” are talking about it now. Health policy expert Bob Laszewski explained that 85 percent of existing individual health insurance policies won’t qualify under the new ObamaCare rules and so insureds must apply for new coverage. And when they do they’re in for a shock: Most will find they’ll have to pay higher premiums — some much higher.
The cancellation notices are already being sent out. Kaiser Health News asked its reporters to make some calls around the country to see just how many policies are already in jeopardy:
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