January 29 2016
One News Now
Hadley Heath and Patrice J. Lee
Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act is drawing to a close. While some people may be interested in getting health insurance, others might be looking to avoid a tax penalty for not having coverage.
Under ObamaCare, the federal government requires virtually everyone in the United States to have some form of health insurance. Those who choose to go without may pay a tax penalty, if they don't qualify for one of the many exemptions offered.
The fee for not having health insurance in 2016 is $695 per person or 2.5 percent of the household income, whichever is greater. That's a substantial increase from 2015, leading some people to wonder if more consumers will sign-up at the last minute. That's especially the case for younger people.
Patrice Lee, national spokeswoman for the young Americans' organization Generation Opportunity, says the fine isn't leading the 18-to-24-year age group ("millennials") to sign up.
"The administration has tried carrots with ObamaCare and there is no carrot," says Lee. "They're now turning to the stick, which is the idea that the penalty will drive or prod young people into buying into ObamaCare," she adds.
According to Lee, when a lot of young people "run the numbers," they realize that it's not worth the cost of high premiums – and even if they get a subsidy to help offset the cost of insurance, Lee says many young people have high deductibles.
Open enrollment for 2016 is scheduled to end on Sunday (January 31).
Attn: All consumers
News reports have documented that some co-ops in ObamaCare are closing or near collapse. In addition, major insurers like UnitedHealthcare have reported significant monetary losses. This week a financial statement from Anthem indicated that company's 2015 enrollment in ObamaCare was down 6.6 percent from 2014.
Consumers may be inclined to tune out such information, especially if they have insurance through their employer. But issues with insurance companies and co-ops in ObamaCare exchanges affect more than just enrollees. Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the Independent Women's Forum, says consumers shouldn't ignore what's going on with insurers.
"While we have different pockets to our health insurance system, and while there may be actually 50 different health insurance systems within the 50 different states, all of this is ultimately connected," says Manning. "We have seen a lot of the same patterns at work in employer-sponsored health insurance."
According to the IWF spokeswoman, premiums continue to rise while out-of-pocket costs continue to increase, and that takes a toll not just on the healthcare expenses for individual workers, but the economy at large.
"It takes a toll on hiring and on wage increases that many people haven't seen for years," Manning says. "So it's important to pay attention to what the effects of the Affordable Care Act have been."