2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Three stories which make me feel both worse and better about America

Some 3 million to 6 million Americans will have to pay an Obamacare tax penalty for not having health insurance last year, Treasury officials said Wednesday. It's the first time they have given estimates for how many people will be subject to a fine.

The penalty is $95, or 1% of income above a certain threshold (roughly $20,000 for a couple). So you could end up owing the IRS a lot of money.

Take a married couple with $100,000 in income - their bill comes to $797, according to the Tax Policy Center ACA penalty calculator.

The penalty for remaining uninsured rises to the larger of $325 or 2% of income in 2015.

OK, this is just an overview of the upcoming tax penalty. Nothing noteworthy. However...

How is this possible? More than one-third of people who are still uninsured under Obamacare -- but appear to be eligible for coverage -- were told that they were not eligible for health insurance under the law, according to a new report.

The finding, from a survey of 10,500 uninsured Americans by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, is truly perplexing. If you extrapolate out to the overall uninsured population in the United States, it means that more than 5 million people who by the letter of the law should be covered were told that they weren't qualified.

...the maddening finding is the 37 percent of eligible uninsured who said they were nonetheless told they didn't qualify for coverage. The survey didn't follow up with a question about how they were told they were ineligible.

...Two possible explanations came to mind for Pearson and Levitt. One is that some of those people who are eligible for coverage now actually were ineligible when they first tried to apply.

...The other is that people misunderstood what they'd been told, whether by the insurance exchange websites, an assistant who helped them try to sign up, etc.

I'll throw another possible reason at you: Last spring, I was informed by a reporter in a deep red state (ain't saying which state or which reporter), in a very matter-of-fact manner, that state officials at the health department/etc. were flat-out lying to people who called or wrote to ask questions about ACA enrollment. Again, this is hearsay; I have no proof of this, but I've heard enough anecdotal stories over the past year or so that it's not a particularly shocking development.

Hell, the Georgia Insurance Commissioner, a jackass named Ralph Hudgens, even went on the record about this:

“Let me tell you what we’re doing (about ObamaCare),” Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens bragged to a crowd of fellow Republicans in Floyd County earlier this month: “Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

After pausing to let applause roll over him, a grinning Hudgens went on to give an example of that obstructionist behavior, this one involving so-called “navigators” who are being hired to guide customers through the process of buying health insurance on marketplaces, or exchanges, set up under the federal program.

Of course, in spite of his best efforts, Georgia went on to enroll over 315,000 people last year, and is already up to over 430,000 this year so far...but who knows how many of the other 670,000 or so Georgians who missed out last year and haven't made their move so far this year were given false information by jerks like this guy?

Finally, we come to the good news, regarding the infamous King v. Burwell case about to go before the Supreme Court:

They break it? You need to fix it.

A strong majority of Americans would want officials to restore often-significant financial aid given to Obamacare customers in much of the United States if the Supreme Court rules the assistance is illegal, a new survey shows.

...Just 14 percent of respondents said they knew "some" or "a lot" about the case targeting the aid, which is available to Obamacare customers with low or moderate incomes.

But 64 percent agreed that "Congress should pass a law" to restore the HealthCare.gov subsidies if the Supreme Court said the ACA as written does not allow them. While Democrats and self-described independents were the most supportive of that view, 40 percent of Republican respondents said Congress should pass a remedy.

In states served by HealthCare.gov, 59 percent said they would want their state to create its own Obamacare exchange in the face of a high court decision ruling the federal exchange subsidies are illegal. And a slight majority of Republicans in those states, 51 percent, agreed that their state should take such action.

In other words, when it comes to Obamacare, Americans may not like the "Obama" part, but they sure as hell like the "Care" part. Take that for what you will.