WaPo: Married couples filing separately another ObamaCare “hurdle”

posted at 8:01 am on March 24, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

By “hurdle,” one presumes the Washington Post means “another example of Obama administration incompetence that no one discovered until the law got implemented.” Hey, po-tay-to, po-tah-to, right? Blame Congress for this one too, because they roped the IRS into the ObamaCare scheme without specifying the way the law should be applied, leaving that to Treasury to figure out. And that’s worked as well as everything else in ObamaCare has, evidently:

In May 2012, when the Internal Revenue Service proposed its rules for Americans to get government subsidies for health insurance, officials acknowledged that a legal quirk needed to be fixed: The Affordable Care Act was written in a way that inadvertently denied such help to some people who live apart from spouses who abuse them, are in prison or are on the cusp of a divorce.

The problem is that the law’s authors, in creating tax credits to help pay for health plans bought through the new insurance marketplaces, had overlooked the fact that some married people file their tax returns separately.

The IRS said in the preamble to those 2012 rules that it would correct the mistake, yet in the nearly two years since then, the Treasury Department has not made the change. And battered spouses have become the leading edge of a small army of people — legally married but filing taxes on their own — stepping up pressure to get an equal chance at affordable health plans.

How will Treasury deal with this issue? In the same ad hoc manner that the rest of the administration has so far — by ignoring laws and regulation in order to avoid the embarrassment of incompetent management:

As the first open-enrollment period for the new federal and state insurance marketplaces approaches its March 31 deadline, the Treasury Department is preparing to take steps this week to allow married survivors of domestic abuse to claim subsidies for health plans, no matter how they file their taxes, according to a department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision is not yet public. Others who are married but filing separately will not get relief for now.

Why didn’t the Obama administration act to fix this problem earlier? They’ve known about it for two years. They should have realized the issue when the exchanges went on line nearly six months ago, too. With a week to go before the deadline for coverage, suddenly the IRS is reacting to the issue, as well as those involving legal immigrants and — I’m not making this up — families with twins, which the exchange is incapable of properly handling.

Don’t ask Treasury. When the Post’s Amy Goldstein inquired as to what happened, all Treasury told her was that they “take seriously” the issue of abused spouses unable to access ObamaCare because they file separately — a tax status that has been around for decades. For everyone else using that status for whatever reason, Treasury plans to “explore ways to address the situation.” When exactly they plan to do so is a mystery, as is how the system got built without figuring out that all tax filing statuses needed to be addressed, or how the Obama administration missed that some families have twins.

Speaking of missing the mark, Gary Gross notes that the Minnesota version of ObamaCare, MNSure, faces a demographic disaster:

More importantly, though, enrollment data shows a troubling low number of MNsure enrollees ages 26-34 are buying insurance. Estimates are that 40 percent of enrollees need to be in that demographic to provide baseline ACA funding. As of Wednesday, only about 20,400 (16 percent) were ages 26-34, well short of the ideal goal of 54,000.

Gee, why haven’t more younger and healthier consumers bothered to sign up? The St. Cloud Times editorial board might have answered its own question:

Fee. Tax. Penalty. Fine. Individual mandate. Individual responsibility payment. Whatever the label, here’s what the ACA’s website, healthcare.gov, says those folks can expect to fork over via their 2014 tax filings. Pay the greater of these two formulas:

• $95 per adult and $47.50 per child. The maximum penalty per family using this method is $285.

• 1 percent of yearly household income.

Please note, that’s in addition to paying 100 percent of your health care bills — which the government estimates to be at least $3,000 a household for out-of-pocket costs this year. Suffer any major health crisis and watch the tab you must pay in full double, triple or worse.

The problem? Most of the plans that these younger consumers can afford come with deductibles that far exceed the $3,000 out-of-pocket per household estimate, which sounds fantastically high in the first place, especially for that demographic. They will have to pay those deductible costs plus the premiums, which will also run in the thousands of dollars, before they see a single dollar in benefits. That’s why most of that demographic got catastrophic insurance coverage … before ObamaCare took that choice away from them.


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They would have dealt with this earlier, but Bush left the economy in such shambles, and what with the 2 wars he had us mired in, the administration just hasn’t had time to deal with this problem. Add to it the do nothing Republican Congress, and its war on women, Obama just couldn’t get through it all to get to issues such as this that are really important to women.

BTW…What about battered husbands?

tdarrington on March 24, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Obama was just too busy on his latest Vacay and golf game after making out his brackets and slow jamming the news to get to this yet.

ConstantineXI on March 24, 2014 at 8:11 AM

They would have dealt with this earlier, but Bush left the economy in such shambles, and what with the 2 wars he had us mired in, the administration just hasn’t had time to deal with this problem. Add to it the do nothing Republican Congress, and its war on women, Obama just couldn’t get through it all to get to issues such as this that are really important to women

tdarrington on March 24, 2014 at 8:09 AM

…none of us have seen ^ these ^ talking points before!…really!…none of us!…this is the first time!….honest!……………..and quit punching yourself!

KOOLAID2 on March 24, 2014 at 8:14 AM

Remember folks, Obamacare was passed in the middle of the night after sub rosa dealmaking with Mark Warner, Mary Landrieu, and other in the Senate and Bart Stupak in the House. Democrats wanted all the credit for passing Obamacare.

I think we should make sure the Dems do, in fact, get full credit.

Happy Nomad on March 24, 2014 at 8:17 AM

BTW…What about battered husbands?

tdarrington on March 24, 2014 at 8:09 AM

…huh?….I didn’t read anything…about Mooch……..anywhere!

KOOLAID2 on March 24, 2014 at 8:18 AM

The Democrats that created it just deny any problems and that is the end of it.

albill on March 24, 2014 at 8:20 AM

albill on March 24, 2014 at 8:20 AM

And what they can’t deny, they pin on republicans or redirect attention to more egregious republican induced problems.

tdarrington on March 24, 2014 at 8:23 AM

How to be a “Democrat Strategist” in 3 easy steps:

1. Deny
2. Deflect
3. Redirect

tdarrington on March 24, 2014 at 8:25 AM

…it’s Laura Bush’s fault!

KOOLAID2 on March 24, 2014 at 8:26 AM

…it’s Laura Bush’s fault!

KOOLAID2 on March 24, 2014 at 8:26 AM

I blame the Bushes- GHWB and his wife Barbara. Had they not had all those kids, well there’d be peace in the world or something.

Happy Nomad on March 24, 2014 at 8:33 AM

My outrage is rather universal since the “opposition” party architected, enabled, and endorsed this disaster. There isn’t an incumbent from 2006 on that doesn’t deserve to be tossed out by their ears and spat on for good measure.

ElectricPhase on March 24, 2014 at 8:36 AM

I blame this on Granny Botox and her fugly sidekick Debbie Washyerhair Schultz.

/War on the wimminses created by ^^

Key West Reader on March 24, 2014 at 8:37 AM

Oh dear, wait until obama finds out about this. He is going to be so very angry.

HumpBot Salvation on March 24, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Blame Congress the Democrats in Congress for this one too, because they roped the IRS into the ObamaCare scheme without specifying the way the law should be applied, leaving that to Treasury to figure out.

FIFY, Ed. Many Dems would love to have America forget that no Republicans voted for this abomination.

NavyMustang on March 24, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Oh dear, wait until obama finds out about this. He is going to be so very angry.

HumpBot Salvation on March 24, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Nobody’s madder.

Happy Nomad on March 24, 2014 at 8:43 AM

My outrage is rather universal since the “opposition” party architected, enabled, and endorsed this disaster. There isn’t an incumbent from 2006 on that doesn’t deserve to be tossed out by their ears and spat on for good measure.

ElectricPhase on March 24, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Hey at least in 2012 Romney was talking about Russia as a threat. The rat-eared wonder mocked him for that since all the smart kids knew that Al Qaeda was the threat but it was on the run and Obama “got” OBL.

I think just as big a part of the problem for the lazy stupid rat-eared coward is that he put political people in charge of State. Neither Killary or Kerry have the kind of background to be in the job.

Happy Nomad on March 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM

You can be sure, though, that ghey couples were fully considered and covered by the legislation & IRS rules, most likely in ways more advantageous than for hetero folks.

KS Rex on March 24, 2014 at 8:49 AM

BTW…What about battered husbands?

tdarrington on March 24, 2014 at 8:09 AM

The article states “battered spouses”…

ladyingray on March 24, 2014 at 8:54 AM

From the WaPo comments

mary_ellen
3/23/2014 8:30 PM EST
… The “free market” approach was a dismal failure. With the exception of cost (US being the most expensive) this country ranks below many other countries in key health outcome measures. The insurance industry exists for the profit it makes and doles out to its shareholders. It does not and never has acted in the interest of its customers. Leopards can’t change their spots.

Hey Mary Ellen, perhaps the reason the “free market” approach was a “dismal failure”, was because there really never was a free market approach, as long as consumers were prohibited from purchasing health insurance across state lines.

And which party was against that happening, hmm?

Flora Duh on March 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM

I wonder if we should tell the IRS about triplets? Nah, it’ll be more fun when they find out on their own.

I don’t know which is worse. On the one hand, we have turned over our health care to the government. On the other hand, we have a government that is run by absolute morons. Alone, either of these are bad. Together, it is too much for words.

kenro85 on March 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM

As Harry Reid would say, “It’s LIES! ALL LIES!”

GarandFan on March 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM

Hey at least in 2012 Romney was talking about Russia as a threat.

Happy Nomad on March 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM

As if Romney passing gas in 2012 did anyone any good whatsoever…. LOL

ElectricPhase on March 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Flora Duh on March 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Purchasing insurance across state lines is a somewhat minor issue, given the government intervention in so many aspects of “health insurance”: employer-provision incentive, multiple coverage mandates, ER mandates, etc.

(In actuality, if you avoid purchasing insurance across state lines, the ‘federal’ government should keep its da-n hands off, since there is no interstate commerce going on. Of course, that unconstitutional boat sailed loooooong ago.)

GWB on March 24, 2014 at 9:42 AM

Let’s lighten up on the IRS on this one…with only so many hours in the day, you can’t harass Tea Party groups while writing the regs to implement Obamacare. C’mon, we all have our limits!

TomJefferson on March 24, 2014 at 9:50 AM

But it’s all good. The women in that demographic get their free birth control and abortifacients–no questions asked and no need to enroll. Life is one big party.

cthemfly on March 24, 2014 at 10:04 AM

I don’t know why people are so concerned about families with twins.

You take one baby to the pediatrician and say “Hi Doc, here’s Baby Louise for her shots.” “Uh, wait- didn’t she get her vaccinations last week?” “Oh no, we had to run out of the room at the last minute because of a flood- she never got her shots”. “Oh, okay.”

I mean, its hard to tell them apart right? And if anyone notices that Louise was actually a Louis last time, just accused them of heteronormalism, or something. Bronies rule!

Twins could do this their entire lives and save TONS on health insurance.

“Wait, Didn’t you have this kidney removed in 1997?” “Uh, no, not me- must be some mistake.”

Pless1foEngrish on March 24, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Ed –
You mean the websites aren’t working perfectly on day one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one twenty-two twenty-three twenty-four twenty-five twenty-six twenty-seven twenty-eight twenty-nine thirty thirty-one thirty-two thirty-three thirty-four thirty-five thirty-six thirty-seven thirty-eight thirty-nine forty forty-one forty-two forty-three forty-four forty-five forty-six forty-seven forty-eight forty-nine fifty fifty-one fifty-two fifty-three fifty-four fifty-five fifty-six fifty-seven fifty-eight fifty-nine sixty sixty-one sixty-two sixty-three sixty-four sixty-five sixty-six sixty-seven sixty-eight sixty-nine seventy seventy-one seventy-two seventy-three seventy-four seventy-five seventy-six seventy-seven seventy-eight seventy-nine eighty eighty-one eighty-two eighty-three eighty-four eighty-five eighty-six eighty-seven eighty-eight eighty-nine ninety ninety-one ninety-two ninety-three ninety-four ninety-five ninety-six ninety-seven ninety-eight ninety-nine one hundred one hundred one one hundred two one hundred three one hundred four one hundred five one hundred six one hundred seven one hundred eight one hundred nine one hundred ten one hundred eleven one hundred twelve one hundred thirteen one hundred fourteen one hundred fifteen one hundred sixteen one hundred seventeen one hundred eighteen one hundred nineteen one hundred twenty one hundred twenty-one one hundred twenty-two one hundred twenty-three one hundred twenty-four one hundred twenty-five one hundred twenty-six one hundred twenty-seven one hundred twenty-eight one hundred twenty-nine one hundred thirty one hundred thirty-one one hundred thirty-two one hundred thirty-three one hundred thirty-four one hundred thirty-five one hundred thirty-six one hundred thirty-seven one hundred thirty-eight one hundred thirty-nine one hundred forty one hundred forty-one one hundred forty-two one hundred forty-three one hundred forty-four one hundred forty-five one hundred forty-six one hundred forty-seven one hundred forty-eight one hundred forty-nine one hundred fifty one hundred fifty-one one hundred fifty-two one hundred fifty-three one hundred fifty-four one hundred fifty-five one hundred fifty-six one hundred fifty-seven one hundred fifty-eight one hundred fifty-nine one hundred sixty one hundred sixty-one one hundred sixty-two one hundred sixty-three one hundred sixty-four one hundred sixty-five one hundred sixty-six one hundred sixty-seven one hundred sixty-eight one hundred sixty-nine one hundred seventy one hundred seventy-one one hundred seventy-two one hundred seventy-three one hundred seventy-four one hundred seventy-five
verbaluce on October 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

(H/T NotCoach)

The problem is that the law’s authors, in creating tax credits to help pay for health plans bought through the new insurance marketplaces, had overlooked the fact that some married people file their tax returns separately.

Well, you can’t really blame them for this. I mean, there are so many different filing statuses to keep up with, right?

Let me see:
• Single
• Married filing jointly
• Married filing separately
• Ummmmm … There’s also …. Uhh … Give me a minute here. There’s got to be another one…..

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 24, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Oh dear, wait until obama finds out about this. He is going to be so very angry.

HumpBot Salvation on March 24, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Nobody’s madder.

Happy Nomad on March 24, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Just you wait until he finds out whose ass to kick!!!!!

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 24, 2014 at 10:24 AM

• Ummmmm … There’s also …. Uhh … Give me a minute here. There’s got to be another one…..

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 24, 2014 at 10:20 AM

“Head of Household” :)

GWB on March 24, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Glitches and hurdles and quirks, oh my!

PattyJ on March 24, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Gee, who would have thunk it. People are not volunteering in droves to pay more for a product than it is worth. Imagine that? People not stepping right on up to get ripped off.

It is simply amazing how these rulers of ours know so little about what insurance is. The value of coverage is dictated by the statistical likelihood of payout times the amount of payout. When you charge much more than that (after accounting for overhead and profit) you are asking people to make a charitable donation.

MJBrutus on March 24, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Ed –
You mean the websites aren’t working perfectly on day one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one twenty-two twenty-three twenty-four twenty-five twenty-six twenty-seven twenty-eight twenty-nine thirty thirty-one thirty-two thirty-three thirty-four thirty-five thirty-six thirty-seven thirty-eight thirty-nine forty forty-one forty-two forty-three forty-four forty-five forty-six forty-seven forty-eight forty-nine fifty fifty-one fifty-two fifty-three fifty-four fifty-five fifty-six fifty-seven fifty-eight fifty-nine sixty sixty-one sixty-two sixty-three sixty-four sixty-five sixty-six sixty-seven sixty-eight sixty-nine seventy seventy-one seventy-two seventy-three seventy-four seventy-five seventy-six seventy-seven seventy-eight seventy-nine eighty eighty-one eighty-two eighty-three eighty-four eighty-five eighty-six eighty-seven eighty-eight eighty-nine ninety ninety-one ninety-two ninety-three ninety-four ninety-five ninety-six ninety-seven ninety-eight ninety-nine one hundred one hundred one one hundred two one hundred three one hundred four one hundred five one hundred six one hundred seven one hundred eight one hundred nine one hundred ten one hundred eleven one hundred twelve one hundred thirteen one hundred fourteen one hundred fifteen one hundred sixteen one hundred seventeen one hundred eighteen one hundred nineteen one hundred twenty one hundred twenty-one one hundred twenty-two one hundred twenty-three one hundred twenty-four one hundred twenty-five one hundred twenty-six one hundred twenty-seven one hundred twenty-eight one hundred twenty-nine one hundred thirty one hundred thirty-one one hundred thirty-two one hundred thirty-three one hundred thirty-four one hundred thirty-five one hundred thirty-six one hundred thirty-seven one hundred thirty-eight one hundred thirty-nine one hundred forty one hundred forty-one one hundred forty-two one hundred forty-three one hundred forty-four one hundred forty-five one hundred forty-six one hundred forty-seven one hundred forty-eight one hundred forty-nine one hundred fifty one hundred fifty-one one hundred fifty-two one hundred fifty-three one hundred fifty-four one hundred fifty-five one hundred fifty-six one hundred fifty-seven one hundred fifty-eight one hundred fifty-nine one hundred sixty one hundred sixty-one one hundred sixty-two one hundred sixty-three one hundred sixty-four one hundred sixty-five one hundred sixty-six one hundred sixty-seven one hundred sixty-eight one hundred sixty-nine one hundred seventy one hundred seventy-one one hundred seventy-two one hundred seventy-three one hundred seventy-four one hundred seventy-five
verbaluce on October 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

(H/T NotCoach)

Where’s Lucy now? In hiding?

slickwillie2001 on March 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM

159 trips to the WH to discuss Obamacare and not one thing done. No trips to the WH to target conservatives and the IRS goes into full 1984. Hmmmmm

pat on March 24, 2014 at 12:36 PM

twins

In North Korea, twins are considered a bad omen.

I guess it’s the same for all totalitarian regimes.

Tsar of Earth on March 24, 2014 at 2:07 PM

… stepping up pressure to get an equal chance at affordable health plans.

I uh… Hate to be the one to break the bad news… but umm…

Oxymoron on March 24, 2014 at 4:06 PM