Exempt from ObamaCare? Have fun proving it, or even finding out
posted at 2:01 pm on October 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Twelve million Americans may or may not be exempt from ObamaCare. They may or may not have to prove it through the disastrous ObamaCare exchanges. Whether they are or not, the systems aren’t ready to provide them a path to claim that exemption — and it may be weeks or months before the exempt can register.
Welcome to IncompetentCare:
The health law’s least popular component — the requirement to obtain insurance or face a tax penalty — also features a lengthy list of exceptions for people facing certain hardships like foreclosure, domestic violence or homelessness. Members of certain religious sects or Native American tribes also are exempt.
But if the online system for getting into Obamacare coverage is rickety, the system for getting out of the mandate doesn’t even exist yet. HHS says it will take another month at least for the administration to finalize the forms.
The Obama administration estimates that as many as 12 million people will seek exemptions through the federal enrollment system. But if they try now through HealthCare.gov, a customer service representative will tell them that applications aren’t available.
To make it even more confusing, not everyone who is exempt from the mandate will have to prove it via the exchange. Millions of people will have straightforward income-related exemptions — for example, low-income people in states that aren’t expanding Medicaid. Their exempt status will get wrapped into their annual tax filing.
But for those who want to start the exemption process online — or who incorrectly think they have to purchase health insurance or be fined despite their personal circumstances — the lack of a pathway has been another example that critics cite about how the White House bungled the rollout.
Yes, this would seem to be a rather big problem, especially since the federal government will sic the IRS on the non-compliant. In fact, even HHS and the IRS aren’t going to be terribly clear on who qualifies, as the complexity of the law and the exemptions make it a difficult point to discern. “You almost have to ask people a thousand questions,” Piper tells Politico, which gives people a great insight into just how intrusive this new law will be. Let me put it this way — does your doctor have to ask you a thousand questions? Why should the government do so in order for you to access health care in the manner you prefer?
Meanwhile, HHS ally Enroll America is trying to put a positive spin on the intrusive nature of the government-mandated health-insurance regime … by applying the Nancy Pelosi spin:
“The bottom line is that we encourage anyone who is uninsured to apply through the new marketplace, because you never know what kind of programs and help you might be eligible for until you apply,” said Justin Nisly, spokesman for Enroll America, a group that backs the administration’s health care drive.
You don’t know what’s in the program until you enter the program! Yes, that sounds familiar, but not in a positive way. Unfortunately, consumers can’t even get into the program at the moment, and it looks like it will take them a long, long time before they can find out whether they’re allowed to opt out of it, too.
Speaking of complications and intrusiveness, the Wall Street Journal reports that the IRS alone will have 47 statutory provisions to enforce:
Software glitches are no surprise with such a complex system. For example, signing up uses a Byzantine process to check if a family is entitled to a subsidy, requiring data from dozens of federal and state agencies using databases built on different technology platforms.
These include Medicaid to determine eligibility, the Internal Revenue Service to determine insurance-premium subsidies based on income, and Homeland Security to confirm citizenship. To make sure the family isn’t covered elsewhere, the sites have to retrieve data from the Veterans Health Administration, the Office of Personnel Management and state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs. Assuming a family is cleared and purchases a plan, the information has to be handed off cleanly to an insurance company.
The Government Accountability Office last year calculated that for the IRS alone, implementing ObamaCare would be a “massive undertaking that involves 47 different statutory provisions and extensive coordination.” Among them: “disclosure of taxpayer information for determining subsidy eligibility,” “drug manufacturer tax” and “high-cost health plan tax.” Senate staffers created a mind-boggling graphic showing ObamaCare’s various agencies and regulators, which can be viewed athttp://1.usa.gov/acamess.
It’s the Hotel California all over again.