Since you’re enjoying your Obamacare health insurance policy so much, you might not be all that put off by a few extra pieces of mail showing up at your door. There’s all those forms to fill out and medical providers to screen, complicated prescription plans and all the rest. But now that the new year is upon us and tax time is approaching, you may want to prepare for an extra surprise from the mailman. It’s coming from the IRS for many of you and it’s not a birthday card.
Moe Lane of Red State kicks the tires of this soon to be entrenched cycle.
“As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm… H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.” Although it’s definitely going to be a problem: ‘several million people suddenly discovering that they now owe back taxes to the government over Obamacare’ is not exactly a good scenario, especially if you belong to the political party that set that scenario up in the first place. But it’s still not the worst thing for Democrats.
No, the problem for Democrats here is that this is going to happen every year. The system is more or less designed to assume that people would twiddle with their coverage on a regular basis: as plans changed, improved, or degraded the consumer would be obligated to follow suit, in order to keep the subsidy. This sounds perfectly reasonable… if you’re not the one doing it. But out in the real world?
Moe points out that this is likely more of a feature than a bug, and it’s not going to change any time soon. As long as you are unable to predict what your medical requirements will be and the rules keep changing from year to year, there will be no effective way to plan for precisely what your costs will be and how the reimbursements will affect you come tax time. As the author notes, it might be better if the law was even worse, as long as it was consistently worse.
In any event, if you know anyone who is enrolled in Obamacare, you might do them a favor and tell them to set aside a few extra dollars from their paychecks between now and the middle of April. Apparently they’ll need it when the tax man cometh.