Tag Archives: Health insurance

Something Wicked This Way Comes

swtwc

As we approach the dreaded tax filing deadline of April 15th, many Americans are ill-prepared for the news they are going to receive from their tax preparers or tax preparation software. Between three and six million people are going to be affected by penalties, an “Individual Shared Responsibility Payment,” associated with the Affordable Care Act. And most of those affected have no idea how much financial pain they are going to feel.

When the Obama Administration was selling Obamacare to the American people – you remember, “It’s not a tax,” “If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it,” “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it,” etc. – they alluded to the existence of penalties for those Americans who did not purchase ACA compliant health insurance. The amount for the first year non-compliance penalty was routinely quoted as $95. For many the choice was clear: keep the non-compliant health insurance, pay the $95 penalty (read: non-compliance tax), and hope that a Republican-led Congress would affect relief for the taxpayer as soon as they took control in Washington, DC.

But that scenario doesn’t impact this tax cycle. And while three to five million people have received subsidies through the Obamacare marketplaces to offset the cost of ACA compliant health insurance (still many more will qualify for exemptions), the penalty – or Individual Shared Responsibility Payment – for most of the three to six million Americans who opted to pay the fine and go without is going to be substantially more than they think.

Contrary to the commonly referred to fine of $95 for non-compliance, that amount is the least amount that can be imposed on an individual. The calculation used for the overwhelming majority of the non-compliant will be the higher of either one-percent of your household income above your filing threshold or a flat dollar amount up to $285 ($95 per adult, $47.50 per child). The important words to consider here are “household income.”

In the scenario where one spouse is covered by employer-sponsored health insurance but the other spouse is not – where one spouse is non-compliant, the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment is still based on the total of the household income; the compliant spouse is still entered into the penalty equation through the use of the household income as a defining integer. The idea that the ACA compliant individual cannot be adversely affected at tax time is a fallacy.

For example, let’s examine what the penalty (read: tax) would be on a Virginia household consisting of a man and a woman who, combined, made $150,000 for the year 2014. The woman is covered through her employer by ACA compliant health insurance, but the man is an independent contractor and chose to attain what used to be known as catastrophic health insurance, thus acquiescing to what he thought was going to be a $95 penalty. Using the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment calculator from HealthInsurance.org, the assessed penalty would be $1,297. A full $1202 more than the $95 for which they had planned. By contrast, a non-compliant single person making $75,000 in 2014 would have been assessed a $648.50 penalty. This means that the penalty for the “crime” of being from a household earning $150,000 with a single non-compliant spouse is $648.50; the penalty for being married to a non-compliant spouse is $648.50. The irony here is that the non-compliant spouse was still covered in the event of a medical emergency, even if he wasn’t ACA “compliant.”

The reasoning used by the Progressives and Democrats when arguing for the passage of the Affordable Care Act was that relief would be given to the healthcare system by virtue of the fact that everyone would be covered by health insurance; that everyone would be paying into the system. But having “passed the bill” so we can now “see what’s in it,” the reality of the matter is this. Obamacare was never about healthcare. It was never really even about everyone being covered by health insurance. And it wasn’t ever about everyone paying into the system. It was about creating two new revenue streams: one for the health insurance companies who now have a captive client-base, and another for the spendthrift federal government through the extraction of what the US Supreme Court has now identified as a tax.

And a heck of a tax it is…especially for the non-compliant and their compliant spouses.

The BO Behind the Obamacare Numbers

If there was one thing that then presidential candidate Barack Obama had right it was his assertion that words matter. That understood, it has always seemed a bit odd to me that a man who presents and proudly proclaims himself a full blown Progressive – if not the quintessential Fabian Progressive – would have alerted the electorate to this fact. Why, you ask? Well, because Progressives are notorious for manipulating the meanings of words to suit their objective needs. Remember, Progressives are the ones who insist that the United States Constitution is a “living document,” meant to facilitate the needs of the times (read: allow government to morph into any authority that the elites believe is needed at any given time).

So, it is with a gigantic grain of salt – a Guinness Book sized grain – that I consume the declarations being made by the Obama Administration on the “numbers of people who have signed up” for health insurance through the federal health exchange. There is a stark difference between “signing up” for the website and purchasing health insurance. Even then, there is a lot of ground between applying for health insurance through the exchange and actually paying the premiums each month.

The truth is, we won’t know how many people have successfully attained health insurance coverage through the “Obamacare Exchange” until after the first month of coverage has completed. This is because for coverage to be in effect it must be paid for. To that end The National Journal reports:

“One of the biggest players in Obamacare’s exchanges says 15 to 20 percent of its new customers aren’t paying their first premium – which means they’re not actually covered.

The latest data come from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, whose members – known collectively as “Blues” plans – are participating in the exchanges in almost every state. Roughly 80 to 85 percent of people who selected a Blues plan through the exchanges went on to pay their first month’s premium, a BCBSA spokeswoman said Wednesday.”

It would seem that some – oh, maybe 15 to 20 percent – of those who “signed up” for health insurance through Healthcare.gov have figured out that as long as it appears as though they have signed up for health insurance through the exchange they might be able to circumvent the inaugural Obamacare fine (read: tax, per SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts) for not actually having health insurance. Of course, this remains to be seen, but given that the Obamacare website is the laughingstock of the tech world, maybe – just maybe – they might get away with it.

And another facet of this totalitarian Progressive overreach of government – this unconstitutional encroachment into our private lives – is the question surrounding the employer mandate. To date, there have seen so many exemptions given to both organizations and corporations alike, the idea that this is actually a “mandate” is becoming laughable. Let’s face it, when a mandate becomes something only applicable to select factions and demographics, it is less a mandate and more a punishment, and a punishment for “not thinking correctly.”

This Progressive line of thinking is typical of an elitist faction that truly believes – truly believes – they know what is best for everyone, even if the overwhelming majority views the “opinion(s)” of said Progressive elitists as undesirable and oppressive. It is for this reason – the elitist narcissism of the Progressive Left – that a recent declaration by former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs shouldn’t surprise anyone.

TheHill.com reports:

“Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs predicted Wednesday that the oft-delayed Obamacare employer mandate will never go into effect.

“I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go,” Gibbs told a crowd in Colorado, according to BenefitsPro.com.

“The website described the audience as being surprised by Gibbs’s comments…

“Gibbs argued that most employers with more than 100 workers already offer health insurance, and only a relatively small number of companies have between 50 and 99 employees.”

Putting aside, for a moment, Mr. Gibbs’ contention that only a small number of companies have employees numbering between 50 and 99 employees, this is another example of the “words matter” bait and switch, and with ramifications.

We the People, were told – in no uncertain terms – that the employer mandate was essential to the success of Obamacare. The Obama Administration has been so obstinate about this point that they were willing to fight the Hobby Lobby Corporation all the way to the US Supreme Court in an effort to force them to provide “end-of-life-causing” contraception options to their employees – against the moral and religiously-based objections of the company owners. The Obama Administration even tried to strong arm Catholic charities operated by nuns to do the same. Yet now we have one of the “soldiers of the Obamacare Movement” shrugging his shoulders insisting that the employer mandate is no big deal? If that’s true, why coerce nuns and those objecting to the mandate on religious grounds?

Looking further down the list of forced mandates, what could we expect next? Should we get ready for the individual mandate to become expendable, but for, of course, the demographics that are “not thinking correctly”?

If words matter, as now President Obama claimed in the days before his presidency, why don’t they matter now, now that he is president? He promised that Americans could keep their doctors and the insurance plans they enjoyed “period.” Yet that turned out to be a lie, bald-faced. He and his cronies said that the mandates were non-negotiable. But now one of the primary mouthpieces who trumpeted the need for these mandates during this blatant coercion of the American people says the need to mandate employer participation is “not so much.”

Truth be told, there are some provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are beneficial to the American people (dealing with the purchase of health insurance across state lines and addressing pre-existing conditions being two). But the negatives of this legislation far, far out-weigh the positives. Additionally, if federally elected politicians weren’t playing the whore for the behemoth insurance companies and their heartless lobbyists on K Street (let’s remember who was “all in” on getting Obamacare passed) purchasing health insurance would have been open to a national market, thus lowering prices through competition and creating viable options to address the issue of pre-existing conditions.

Don’t look now, but Capitalism is the answer to high health insurance prices and accessibility.

Yes, worlds matter. And where Obamacare is concerned, the only applicable words that matter are these, spoken by then candidate Obama:

“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

How Obamacare Screws the Working Class…Hard

Now that it is becoming clear that the establishment House Republicans are about to capitulate to the Senate Democrats and Obama Progressives, it is clear that, short of Republicans taking the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, Obamacare is set to sink into the flesh of the American entitlement system not unlike a bear’s claws sink into the flesh of its prey. Regardless of whether or not the federal healthcare exchange website functions adequately or not (get used to it, it’s government inferiority at work), the bureaucracy has just expanded and your wallets are about to do the opposite.

One of the things that people are going to have to come to understand is how the Internal Revenue Service – yes, the same Internal Revenue Service currently under investigation for targeting Conservative political groups – will be assessing the penalties (read: enforcing Obamacare) on those who choose not to “participate.” The fact of the matter is that it is both less ominous, yet more disturbing, than people think.

The penalties levied under the Affordable Care Act, under the usually heavy hand of the IRS, is not so much under the ACA. In fact, the pathway for extracting the Obamacare penalty from non-participants is exclusive to the garnishment of any federal tax refunds due. If one chooses not to acquire qualifying health insurance, the IRS will withhold the amount of the penalty that must be paid from any federal tax return refund that is owed an individual in violation of the statute.

According to BusinessInsider.com:

The IRS will not have the power to charge you criminally or seize your assets if you refuse to pay. The IRS will only have the ability to sue you. And the most the IRS can collect from you if it wins the suit is 2 times the amount you owe. So if you want to thumb your nose at the penalty-tax, the IRS won’t be able to do as much to you as they could if you refused to pay, say, income tax.

So, unlike when an individual fails to pay their federal income taxes, there won’t be a cadre of black uniformed federal agents armed with fully-automatic weapons kicking in your door in the middle of the night. You won’t be “frog-marched” out of your house in irons, past your disenchanted neighbors, to face the swift righteousness of redistributive social justice (I am being sarcastic, but less so than I would have been just a few years back).

But one question that eludes the thoughts of most people where this matter is concerned is this. What happens if you don’t “participate” in Obamacare but you aren’t due any federal tax refund? What if you are one of the 47 percent who does not pay federal income tax? What if you are über-wealthy and can afford a wizard tax attorney who can figure out how you can “zero out” on your federal taxes each year?

Well, the short answer is this. If you don’t pay federal income tax, technically, you don’t have to pay the fines under the Affordable Care Act. If you are one of the hard-working Americans who has federal taxes withheld from your paycheck – oh, you know, like Middle-Class, blue-collar and union workers not covered by the Executive Branch union carve-outs of the law – you will have to pay the penalty out of your tax refunds. If you are one of the 47 percent of the American public who doesn’t pay federal income taxes, you get to “skate” the Obamacare penalty. Ditto for the “One Percenters.”

One has to wonder whether H&R Block is going to be flooded with new clients trying to figure out how to pay their federal income taxes to the penny throughout the year so that they “zero out.”

And let’s be honesty, the IRS is not going to come after every person who “skates” the $95 dollar (or 1 percent of earnings) penalty being assessed in 2014, even if they did seek to hire upwards of 16,000 new IRS agents since the passage of this freedom-crushing law.

So, when one comes to understand this very stark reality, the obvious question is this. If the indestructible demographic (the 21 to 32 year-old demo) doesn’t sign-up for the Obamacare exchanges in droves – and droves upwards of 80% of their demographic, and 47 percent of the country doesn’t pay federal income taxes, who actually pays for the expanded coverage mandated under the Affordable Care Act? Who is on the hook for Obamacare?

The answer – again – is the Middle-Class, blue-collar and union workers not covered by the Executive Branch union carve-outs of the law…and new taxes on everyone. Again, BusinessInsider.com reports:

Here are some of the new taxes you’re going to have to pay to pay for Obamacare:

A 3.8% surtax on “investment income”( dividends, interest, rent, capital gains, annuities, house sales, partnerships, etc.) when your adjusted gross income is more than $200,000, $250,000 for joint-filers. What is “investment income?” (WSJ)

A 0.9% surtax on Medicare taxes for those making $200,000 or more, $250,000 joint. (WSJ)

Flexible Spending Account contributions will be capped at $2,500. Currently, there is no tax-related limit on how much you can set aside pre-tax to pay for medical expenses. (ATR.org)

The itemized-deduction hurdle for medical expenses is going up to 10% of adjusted gross income. (ATR.org)

The penalty on non-medical withdrawals from Healthcare Savings Accounts is now 20% instead of 10%. (ATR.org)

A tax of 10% on indoor tanning services. This has been in place for two years, since the summer of 2010. (ATR.org)

A 40% tax on “Cadillac Health Care Plans” starting in 2018.Those whose employers pay for all or most of comprehensive healthcare plans (costing $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for families) will have to pay a 40% tax on the amount their employer pays. (ATR.org)

A”Medicine Cabinet Tax” that eliminates the ability to pay for over-the-counter medicines from a pre-tax Flexible Spending Account. (ATR.org)

A “penalty” tax for those who don’t buy health insurance.

A 2.3% excise tax on medical devices costing more than $100. (Breitbart.com)

So those are some of the new taxes you’ll be paying that will help pay for Obamacare…

Note that these taxes are both “progressive” (aimed at rich people) and “regressive” (aimed at the middle class and poor people).

The cost of this program will not be affordable for the individuals – almost every story but for those who get taxpayer-funded subsidies is one of tripled premiums and deductibles, and it won’t be affordable for the country, especially when the bureaucrats and elitist political class put the price tag of the whole Obamacare ball of infected earwax at approximately $2 trillion dollars.

Now, President Obama is quoted as having said, in an interview with the Spanish-Speaking television network Univision, that:

Once [the budget impasse is rectified], you know, the day after – I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform…And if I have to join with other advocates and continue to speak out on that, and keep pushing, I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country. And now is the time to do it.

And as the “indestructible” demographic (21-32 years of age) fails to sign-up for the Obamacare exchanges, pro-amnesty Progressives will begin insisting that illegal immigrants (I’m sorry, I mean undocumented uninvited guests) be added to those eligible for Obamacare. Understanding that the 47 percent of those who do not pay federal income tax cannot be fined, and that the One Percenters can affords to have their taxes “zero out,” how long will it be until Progressives scream “crisis” and demand massive, Middle-Class killing. economy destroying, Cloward-Piven-styled tax increases?

Who is John Galt?

Dispensing with the ‘It’s the Law’ Rhetoric

Over the past few months, Progressives and Democrats who favor the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – both elected and not – have insisted that the new and expanding entitlement will go forward as planned because, after all, it is “the law of the land.” When I ponder this statement I find myself less inclined to laugh and more inclined to succumb to sadness. That a faction that holds the Constitution in such disregard would so disingenuously foist the hypocrisy of this statement in defense of what is arguably an unconstitutional law, defies humor.

A cursory recollection of how this horrific, economy-killing piece of legislation came to be, not only illustrates a fundamental transgression of the spirit of American government, it shows how the Progressive movement executes an “ends justifies the means” political game plan. Because Progressives believe that the United States should provide socialized healthcare to every living being existing legally in the United States (and some who do not), they purposefully circumvented the legislative process, crafting the legislation with special interest groups – including labor unions, Progressive think tank operatives and foreign aligned special interest groups, behind closed doors and excluding members of the minority party. They then moved the legislation forward – at times threatening to “deem it passed” – along party lines, ignoring the protests of the minority party and howls of discontent from the American citizenry, and into law.

Today, as Republicans in the US House, which has the constitutionally mandated power of the purse, threaten to exclude any aspect of Obamacare from the funding of government operations – which is their constitutional right to do, Progressives and toady Democrats protest that the ACA is “the law of the land.” The proclamation would have even the slightest bit of weight if these same hypocrites always acquiesced to “the law of the land.” The fact is that they transgress the “law of the land” as a matter of policy; to advance an agenda that is often times anathema to the American system of government and the rule of law.

One can look back to the first Obama Administration’s abdication of the rule of law when newly installed Attorney General Eric Holder approved of political appointees at the Justice Department quashing the prosecution of New Black Panther Party members who executed one of the most egregious instances of voter intimidation in modern history. The “law of the land” mandated that the DoJ prosecute these constitutional transgressors to “the fullest extent” of the law. If “the law of the land” was so precious to these Obama-ite Progressives and Democrats, they would have been exploring ways to include charges of racial discrimination (as the perpetrators were Black and targeting White voters) and hate crimes. But, “the law of the land” wasn’t so important as to be followed in this instance.

One could look into the non-enforcement of immigration laws by the Obama Administration to evidence their selective support of “the law of the land.” For the entire tenure of Mr. Obama’s presidency we have witnessed border patrol members and their union representatives catalog a litany of directives emanating from DHS obfuscating efforts to secure our nation’s borders and hold to justice those who have broken our laws to exist here. Yet, in a post-911 world, when we hold proof-positive in our hands that Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda are working with Mexican and South American drug cartels, the “law of the land” isn’t so important to the Progressives and their sycophant Democrats so as to be honored.

The several Congressional investigations into operational and political malfeasance executed under the Obama Administration provide ample evidence that the Executive Branch Progressives have little use for “the law of the land” when it does not suit their need or the advancement of their ideological, globalist or social justice agendas. The US Constitution gives the power of oversight – including subpoena powers – to Congress. Yet today the Obama Administration routinely obstructs congressional investigators, usurping “the law of the land”:

▪ Fast & Furious saw the Holder Justice Department illegally facilitating the movement of banned weapons across the Mexican border. And even in the face of the deaths of US Border Patrol Agents, the Obama Administration – to this day – thwarts efforts to fully investigate the program.

▪ The politically motivated use of the Internal Revenue Service to target what can only be described as opposition groups, i.e. TEA Party, Conservative and Libertarian advocacy groups, stands as one of the more serious misuses of a federal agency to affect politics in the history of the country. In fact, it was the second count in the impeachment indictment leveled against former-Pres. Richard Nixon. Yet, the Obama Administration shows little interest in assisting congressional investigators in their pursuit of protecting the American citizenry from their own government’s unlawful actions. (Note to Mr. Obama…President Nixon at least had the nobility to resign).

▪ The expansion – not just the continuation – of the NSA domestic surveillance program arguably usurps the Fourth Amendment protections provided the citizenry, but under the guise of protecting the country, even some members of Congress who have Top Secret clearances are kept in the dark on the program by members of the Obama Administration.

▪ And as four brave Americans – Amb. Christopher Stevens, Ty Woods, Sean Smith & Glen Doherty – lay cold in their graves, exclusively because Mr. Obama and his Progressive crew couldn’t be exposed for their putting politics ahead of protecting American assets overseas; American soil in the form of Embassy grounds, the “most transparent” administration in American history hides behind anything that will give them cover so as not to act in the spirit of “the law of the land”; so as not to afford the justice “the law of the land” is owed those four dead Americans (Note to former-Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: Yes, it does matter, to every American but the Progressive elected class, evidently).

But getting back to Obamacare being “the law of the land,” and the fact that these Progressive ideologues intend to inflict this economy-killing, divisive, wealth-redistributing program onto the American people, regardless of the fact that it has never – never – been popular with over half of the nation, and that it now falls well short of providing health insurance to “every American,” I have two questions:

1) If “the law of the land” is so very important to follow, then how is it that these same people ignore the fact that “the law of the land” allows the House of Representatives to refuse to fund the entitlement program?

2) If the “law of the land” is so sacrosanct then how can these Progressive elitist oligarchs decry any part of the US Constitution – the literal “law of the land” – as malleable; as subject to dictates of the day?

The truth be told, the only time “the law of the land” means anything to Progressives is when it serves their purpose. In any other case it is an edict to be scorned, rebuked, castigated and/or ignored. That Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the White House Communications Office and President Obama himself shamelessly hide behind the “It’s the law of the land” declaration in their defense of the legitimate House effort to save the country from this legislative mistake would be laughable if it weren’t so deadly serious.

So, let’s dispense with this rhetoric, shall we?

The Obamacare Recession

Obamacare recession

The sequester’s $85 billion dollar slowing of federal spending isn’t what’s going to stall the economy this year – that will come from the President’s healthcare reform.

The White House and congressional Democrats have been hard at-work spinning the March jobs slowdown as an effect of sequestration even though the details of the report show no slowdown in government hiring. As sequestration would first impact government jobs, the correlation is non-existent.

The true culprit in the coming recession is not George Bush, Republican filibusters or slightly slower government spending – its Obamacare.

The President’s marquee healthcare reform law is taking its toll on business owners and families as it is directly causing premiums to skyrocket – some by more than double – and the toll on the economy is just beginning.

An exhaustive study by three congressional committees delivers startling news about the dire effects of Obamacare: President Barack Obama’s signature legislation could increase health insurance premiums by over 200 percent and render insurance coverage unaffordable for millions of Americans.

Insurance companies, states and the federal government have been frantically trying to implement the complicated and costly healthcare law.

Insurance companies have spent millions of dollars installing new software, designing integration with state/federal exchanges and changing their processes to deal with the concept of premium subsidies and premium cost-sharing – two major components of Obamacare. That money has to come from somewhere and its coming in the form of skyrocketing premiums.

States that chose to either implement their own exchanges or work in a state-federal partnership to form exchanges are seeing their costs balloon as well. State taxpayers will bear the brunt of those expenses.

The federal government, realizing that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is too complex, is planning to hire Obamacare Insurance Navigators at a cost of $29-$49.00 per hour. When the government hires, the costs come from taxpayers. Increasing costs mean increasing taxes – just as the President has proposed in his budget plan.

The revenue needed to fund the expense is coming out of the pockets of consumers and going to a massively-expanding federal bureaucracy. More taxpayer money is going to fund Department of Health and Human Services regulation, State and Federal exchanges and now more federal employees – expensive ones.

Consumers are getting hit from another side as premiums affect their paychecks and their employers.

As employers are forced to pay increasing premiums, more revenue must be directed away from pay and hours. Many employers are converting full-time positions to part-time or eliminating them altogether to avoid the overwhelming costs associated with healthcare reform.

Skyrocketing premiums mean less money for workers. As employer-provided health insurance usually splits the cost between the employee and employer, the worker will see a shrinking paycheck as premiums increase.

According to a Milliman Consulting Group study on insurance rates, the pain will be substantial for the middle-class:

the poor are likely to pay significantly less than they do now while middle-class families dig deeper into pocketbooks.

President Obama told the American people that this law would bend the healthcare cost curve down. In just its first few years of implementation it has done the opposite.

Even Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted that “there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market.” When asked about rapidly-increasing premiums.

Some proponents of the healthcare law have made the case that premiums are rising due to increasing healthcare costs. White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest countered that claim saying that “I would actually point to the results that we’re already seeing from the Affordable Care Act, which is a savings of $2.1 billion.”

So if healthcare costs are not causing insurance premiums to rise – there’s only one culprit left and the drain on the economy will likely push the country back into recession.

Single Democrats? Here’s Your New Health Insurance.

obamacare fallout

Do you know any young single Obama voters? Maybe the guys and gals who were excited about their “free” contraceptives offered through Obamacare? Those who excitedly said, “Yes. Yes. We all need health care.”

Share this with those guys.

The first new price rates came out today in Vermont. An enthusiastically democratic state, Vermont politicians have been pushing for a single payer program within their state. The state is implementing its own health care program allowing it to receive a waiver from Obamacare. Which all sounds good…

At least until people find out the “free” programs actually cost money.

In the released rates, a family of four making $34,000 government subsidies will reduce their health care cost to less than $50 a month. Of course, that same family (as any VT family of four making under $57,000) per year qualifies today for the state run Medicaid program.

But what if you, still living in Vermont, and are single making $40,000. Next year, your  health insurance cost will be about $300 per month. Oops.

Visit the Vermont health insurance website to see for yourself. The idea of single payer insurance with added perks and benefits seems great…until you realize, somebody has to pay for it.