How Healthy Is Obamacare Now?
Enrollment for Obamacare for 2015 closed last week, so how is the health of a program that’s been marred by political debate and technical issues? Let’s take a look at three updates on Obamacare.
More people are signing up
According to the White House, about 11.4 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges by the end of the second enrollment period, February 15. About 6 million taxpayers will face at least a $95 penalty for not registering for Obamacare, and the Obama administration may create a special enrollment period for the people who will realize this tax season that they have to pay the penalty for not having coverage.
800,000 people got the wrong tax forms
Obamacare enrollees are facing a hurdle with their taxes this year. The Obama administration admitted Friday that about 800,000 Obamacare enrollees received incorrect subsidy information on the 1095-A tax forms sent by the federal exchange, healthcare.gov. Those who have received incorrect forms have to wait to file their taxes, but unfortunately, 50,000 people have already filed theirs incorrectly.
According to CNN Money, inaccurate forms were issued to about 20% of those who qualified for subsidies to lower their 2014 premiums. Some taxpayers were mistakenly told the subsidy they received in 2014 was too large, while others were told their subsidy was too small. Therefore, some taxpayers will have to return their subsidy, while others will receive a larger one. Those affected will be notified by the Department of Health and Human Services and should get updated forms by early March.
Is Obamacare killing jobs?
Last year a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prompted Republicans to call the Affordable Care Act a job killer, as it projected Obamacare would reduce the number of hours worked by 1.5 to 2.0%. According to Aljazeera America, the report actually means something very different. Because the Affordable Care Act allows people to get insurance through the exchanges or through Medicaid, people don’t have to work at full-time jobs just to get health care insurance from an employer. That’s why the CBO was projecting a loss in working hours. It wouldn’t be a loss in the hours offered, but rather it meant workers would take advantage of the opportunity get insurance without having to work so many hours for an employer to get it.
Instead, Aljazeera’s report says that the Affordable Care Act is cutting down “job lock,” the situation in which workers feel trapped in jobs they don’t want because they’re afraid of losing health insurance for themselves or their families. As a result of more freedom in the job market, the report suggests parents of young children may opt to work part-time or temporarily stop working to spend more time with their kids, some people may quit their jobs to start their own businesses, and older workers in poor health may retire earlier.