STUMP » Articles » Obamacare Watch: 12 March 2014 -- Individual Mandate Gone, Sub Rosa » 12 March 2014, 18:59

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Obamacare Watch: 12 March 2014 -- Individual Mandate Gone, Sub Rosa  


12 March 2014, 18:59

I have been expecting the individual mandate penalty/tax in Obamacare to go. I was thinking that Sebelius would announce this in September or October, ahead of elections to try to remove that problem. Maybe they’d announce it in the summer, before the next open enrollment period.

I wasn’t expecting the individual mandate for Obamacare to be wiped out so soon.

Yes, yes, it’s “delayed” for two years, and supposedly only for certain groups of people, but the documentary support required is so weak, and the mandate/tax was already so weak, only idiots will pay the Obamacare non-coverage penalty/tax.

Here’s the WSJ on what happened

ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.

That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.

In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.

But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you “believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy” or “you consider other available policies unaffordable.”

This lax standard—no formula or hard test beyond a person’s belief—at least ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that “you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance,” which only requires “documentation if possible.” And yet another waiver is available to those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their prior insurance. In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.

Pretty much.

Now, keep in mind that the IRS was explicitly barred in the Obamacare law (before Obama/Sebelius started “deeming” things all over the place) from pursuing people over the mandate tax/penalty. They would be allowed to take it out of any refunds, and I’ve posted before that people should adjust their withholdings now to make sure they have no refunds to be taken away next year.

But hey, looks like you don’t even need to do that.

Just write a little “Sorry, it was unaffordable” note, and that should be good enough, according to the above.

I’m sure the TurboTax people are incorporating that option for next year’s software already.


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