Thursday, March 20, 2014

Clearing the ObamaTax Spindle

■ As we recently reported, getting off an ObamaPlan is almost a hard as getting onto one:

"When there is something that needs to be changed on the policy through the marketplace, no one seems to know how to fix it — not people at the marketplace nor their supervisors."

Mr and Mrs Carpenter may have had it easy, though, compared to the plight of Florida resident Melissa Battles:

"When I tried to enroll my entire family... it is very convoluted and it takes a very long time to enroll.”

But enroll she did, and eventually even qualified for a subsidy. Soon after, though, she was fortunate enough to find a new job - complete with benefits, no less - so she "contacted her insurer, Florida Health Care Plans, to terminate her policy. They told her she could not disenroll from her policy with them, instructing her to do it with the marketplace."

Well, we know how well that worked out for the Carpenters, not to mention Larry Basich. After multiple calls, she was finally able to cancel her coverage (maybe), but is stuck paying for at least an extra month's premiums for a plan she doesn't want or need.

What a bargain.

■ "Bill Hobson" (not his real name, for reasons well-explained at the link) has a different sort of problem:

"I've had individual health insurance policies since 1989 ... As with most folks, I saw my premiums go up incrementally over the years as age and health care costs rose, but nothing like what happened in the past year."

So, he made the entirely rational decision to see if he could qualify for a subsidy and thus buy a less expensive plan on the ObamaTax Exchange. According to the calclators he used, he determined that he was, in fact, eligible, and went about applying for a new plan.

Problem was, when he was through inputing all his information, denied his subsidy. So, he called the toll-free "support line," where he spoke with one of the on-call Navigators. This Navigator asked a few questions, and then honed in on what he (erroneously) believed to be the culprit:

"When he asked whether I had indicated I currently have health insurance, I said I had … because I do have health insurance.

"Ah," he said, "that may be the problem.


What happened next illustrates an underlying, fundamental problem of the ObamaTax, which is mis- and dis-information. The idea that being previously insured disqualifies one from a subsidy is mis-information; that is, it's a mistake (and/or poor training) on the Navigator's part. But the next exchange qualifies as dis-information:

"But surely, I maintained ... I can't be the only self-employed person who's applying for tax credits who already has insurance. How do other people qualify?

There was a pause on the phone line, then the young man said, "Well, I'm sure that not all people give the, uh, correct answer to all the questions

Hint, hint.

So why would a Navigator actively encourage an enrollee to lie about being previously insured?

Well, here's a clue:

"A headline in the LA Times this past week answered the question. "Obamacare meeting goal of reducing number of uninsured"

Anyone surprised?
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