Is Healthcare.gov Reliable?


taxes-226718_640I typically do not repost articles from The Huffington Post.  That site tends to be too liberal for my tastes.

However, I do want to encourage those Americans, who took a “subsidy” last year to help them pay for health insurance, to click on the link above and read an article that they felt was newsworthy last Friday.

On February 16, the Department of Health and Human Services had to issue a Special Election Period (SEP), for Americans who waited until the last-minute to enroll in an “Obamacare” compliant health insurance plan, because the federal Marketplace crashed again.

The SEP was supposed to be available only to people who were “in line” and trying to enroll through their state’s Marketplace when the crash happened.  Unfortunately, there is no way to prove who was “in line” and who just procrastinated.  Regardless of the terminology that the politicians use, the effect of the SEP was an extension of “Obamacare’s” Annual Enrollment Period.

1095-A SNAFU

The site crashing was not the only problem the Marketplace had week.

On Friday, Mr. Obama announced that, as many as 800,000 Americans, who used Healthcare.gov in 2014 have been given incorrect tax information.  The mistake affected about 20 % of Americans who used Healthcare.gov last year.   If they have already filed their taxes for 2014 they may have to redo their tax returns for last year.

Those Americans, who have not already filed, will need to wait to file until they get correct information and their tax refunds will be delayed by the IRS.

The problems appear to be that approximately 20% of the forms that Healthcare.gov sent to people, to tell them how much was paid to insurance companies on their behalf in 2014, used figures from 2015 rather than 2014.  Unfortunately, there is no way for Americans to know if the information on the form 1095-A that they got from Healthcare.gov is accurate.

The bottom line is that while Healthcare.gov is far from the mess it was in October of 2013, it is still not completely fixed.  I still feel that, unless an individual has no option but to claim a tax-credit advance so that they can afford to pay for mandated health insurance, they should buy their compliant health insurance “OFF MARKETPLACE.”

KING V BURWELL

Just stay alert in 2015 if you did use Healthcare.gov to get a “subsidy.”  Arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled for next week over whether tax-credits can be paid for people who use the federal Healthcare.gov Marketplace.  If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiff, the “subsidies” will disappear this summer.

Should the tax-credits survive the Supreme Court ruling in King v Burwell this summer, an American can still get help, from the government, to pay their health insurance premium, but it is a gamble in 2015, until after the Court’s ruling is made public this summer.

I am advising my clients, who earn over 250% of the Federal Poverty Level to buy defer their tax-credits for 2015, and buy their Obamacare plans from a source other than Healthcare.gov.  If they do that, they can claim the same tax-credit they would have gotten had they taken it as an advance.  The only difference is that if they defer that tax-credit until they file their 2015 taxes, it will be paid as a lump sum in their tax-refund.

Americans need to consider that if the Supreme Court rules against Burwell, they will be protected from any negative consequences but only if they have deferred their “subsidies” for 2015

  1. They will not run the risk of the IRS trying to recoup any of the tax-credits they have paid illegally in 2014 and/or 2015 if that is what they are ordered to do.
  2. The budget that they set up for 2015 will not be busted by an unexpected increase in mandated health insurance premiums in the middle of the year.

S.E.P.

It is also important to note that when Mr. Obama announced that Healthcare.gov sent out incorrect information, he made another announcement.

His Department of Health and Human Services has exercised their right to create a Special Election Period (SEP) for March 15 – April 30.

This SEP is only for Americans who were charged the new “Shared Responsibility Payment” (formerly known as, “The Penalty) on their tax return for 2014.  It is not another option for people to make changes to their existing Obamacare plans.

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