Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Obamacare Schadenfreude in the Snow

That was quick. I just cleaned the refrigerator yesterday, and now it's bulging with Obamacare Schadenfreude again.

Uh oh: Democrats want an Obamacare enrollment extension
Buried in the fifth paragraph of a Fiscal Times story surrounding Healthcare.gov’s persistent inability to function is the costs that taxpayers are expected to shoulder for this debacle. The construction of the ACA’s federal web portal and the subsequent repairs this site required have to date cost the country… wait for it… $2.2 billion. For a website. As recently as last summer, Healthcare.gov had only cost the government $840 million. Apparently, the costs associated with maintaining this site have nearly tripled.
. . .
Those users who were faced with a “glitch” in the system will be allowed a special extended enrollment period despite the fact that open enrollment officially ended on Sunday.

But some congressional Democrats are lobbying the White House to extend the enrollment period for all uninsured taxpayers. Why? This year, millions of uninsured will face a series of tax penalties for failing to purchase health insurance for the first time.

“The three are Michigan’s Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas,” a Fox News report read. “All worked to help steer Obama’s law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.”
They need to keep extending it because it's working so well, right? Democrats seek relief from health law penalties
"Open enrollment period ended before many Americans filed their taxes," the three lawmakers said in a statement. "Without a special enrollment period, many people (who will be paying fines) will not have another opportunity to get health coverage this year.

"A special enrollment period will not only help many Americans avoid making an even larger payment next year, but, more importantly, it will help them gain quality health insurance for 2015," the lawmakers added.

So far, administration officials have deflected questions about whether an extension will be granted. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell has authority to grant special enrollment periods under certain circumstances.

Supporters of the law say an extension would mainly help low- to middle-income uninsured people, the same group that Obama's coverage expansion was intended to serve. But Republicans may criticize it as another tweak to what they see as unworkable "Obamacare."
And it's not just the Feds, problems keep arising with the state market places too. Covered California Sends Out Nearly 100,000 Tax Forms Containing Errors, Others Deal With Missing Forms
Tens of thousands of people who buy their health insurance through Covered California will get an unpleasant surprise when they file taxes this year.

Stacy Scoggins gets plenty of mail from Covered California, but the one tax form the agency was required to send her by February 2nd still hasn’t arrived. “After being on hold for 59 minutes, they told me that the 1095-A was never generated,” Scoggins told KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch.

She’s talking about the 1095-A form, a document required for enrollees to file their tax returns. It’s a problem, for the recent widow who desperately needs to file now.

“I need my tax refund,” Scoggins said.

And she’s far from the only Covered California enrollee with 1095 problems. About 100,000 or 12 percent of the forms generated by Covered California have inaccuracies.
. . .
“There are some of these that are going to need reconciliation,” Howard said.
But he said Covered California sent them out anyway, to beat the February 2nd deadline.
Unless they have the university health plan, students are on the hook for a ‘sustainable model’

Students at Cornell University are feeling the after-effects of Obamacare: a new $350 student health fee if they opt out of the university health plan, even if they have separate insurance plans.

Announced last week by President David Skorton, the news spurred a series of rallies on campus, the Twitter hashtag #FightTheFee and an accompanying Twitter handle, which encouraged students to “pack” Thursday’s Student Assembly meeting.

The new health fee would “impact approximately 70 percent of undergraduates, 30 percent of professional and 10 percent of graduate students,” Skorton said in a Feb. 5 statement.

In light of the rise of health services costs, Cornell is restructuring the finances of its Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP.

Students who do not opt in to the $2,352 plan will get hit with the $350 fee, which “most likely” won’t be covered by financial aid, according to The Cornell Review. The newspaper said the university plan is run through Aetna, whose CEO is a Cornell MBA grad.
Good, get 'em used to the idea of irrational taxes.

I have to pay back my Obamacare subsidy
The Los Angeles resident had applied for Obamacare in late 2013, when she was unemployed. She qualified for a hefty subsidy of $470 a month, leaving her with a monthly premium of $1 for the cheapest plan available.

Riddle landed a job in early 2014 at a life insurance agency, but since her new employer didn't offer health benefits, she kept her Obamacare plan. However, she didn't update her income with the California exchange, which she acknowledges was her mistake.

Now, she has to pay back the entire subsidy, which is forcing her to dip into her savings.

"I was blindsided that the subsidy has to be paid back," said Riddle, adding she didn't even use the coverage, which she had until she qualified for Medicare in October. "I'm in shock...but I have no choice. Do I want to argue with the IRS or the Obama administration?"
What were ya thinkin'? Getting a job?

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