Shared Responsibility Tax Penalty

Before I get into the meat of the headline, I just wanted to point something out (bear with me, there's a reason for this):

Exhibit A:

  • October, 2013: Several million people receive cancellation notices from their health insurance companies, stating that their current policies will be discontinued effective 12/31/13 because they don't meet the Affordable Care Act's minimum coverage requirements. Much outrage and gnashing of teeth follows because President Obama had repeatedly stated that "If you like your plan you can keep it" (which, as I noted over a year ago, was an absurd thing for him to promise without including any caveats since there's no way of guaranteeing that the company won't go out of business, leave the state or simply decide to discontinue that policy for their own reasons which may or may not have anything to do with ACA compliance).
  • November, 2013: In response to the "You Can Keep It" brouhaha, President Obama and the HHS Dept. announce a 1-year (later quietly extended to up to 3 years) "transitional" policy for non-compliant plans. Some states take them up on it; some don't.
  • July, 2015: Republicans and other ACA critics complain that allowing the "transitional" policy extension is partly to blame for significant rate hikes expected to show up in 2016.
  • CONCLUSION: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.