After months of discouragement regarding the promised repeal (and possible replacement) of Obamacare, Congress may have just given those longing for that sweet breath of freedom some hope in an unexpected place – the tax reform bill that has now become law.
The Senate included a repeal of the individual mandate in its tax reform bill. After all, the Supreme Court did rule in 2012 that the individual mandate’s “penalty” for not obtaining insurance, as prescribed by the federal government, is a tax.
According to an article by Tami Luhby in CNN Money dated Dec. 15, 20147, both houses of Congress agreed to and passed the tax cut bill that includes the repeal of the tax penalty contained in the individual mandate. Please be aware that this repeal does not kill the actual mandate – just the tax penalty for disobeying the mandate.
Then President Trump signed the bill into law just in time to be a Christmas present to the American people – at least those who believe in the limited role of government in their lives.
However, don’t expect it to take effect in the new year of 2018, because the actual effective date of this repeal is in 2019. So the Obamacare slaves will not be freed in 2018 as many had hoped.
The CNN Money article reports an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that in the first year the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate becomes effective, there will be four million more people who are uninsured. Additionally, that great prognosticator of economic happenings is also predicting that as many as 13 million people will be uninsured by 2027. While we are ruminating on the CBO’s current predictions, let’s take a short dive into its earlier forecasts regarding Obamacare.
As stated in one of my earlier blog posts, the CBO estimated in 2012 that between 20 and 23 million people would gain health insurance through the new exchanges from 2016 on. However, between 2014 and 2015, only 14 million actually signed up, according to a research fellow with the Heritage Foundation. Then the same source stated that additional signups for the exchange plans added up to only 842,028 for 2016.
There is one large factor that has been left out of any estimates at this time. It seems to have slipped the minds of CBO estimators and other doomsdayers that even before the repeal of the individual mandate penalty by Congress, President Trump issued an executive order permitting the sale of association plans that could also cross state lines.
So what are association plans?
These are health plans that can be offered to large groups of people with similar interests or jobs, but not necessarily working for the same employer. For instance, a truckers’ association could offer plans to all of its members nationwide. Even the Chamber of Commerce could offer plans to its members, and so on. Those who leave the unsatisfactory exchanges behind may very well find an alternative plan. It may be that some of the people forced onto the exchanges to obtain the required health coverage because their employer was too small to offer coverage could find better plans offered to fellow workers in their fields.
These groups could be just as large as a corporation and offer plans that are a lot less expensive than individual plans, which are known to be quite expensive for those who are not receiving a subsidy.
I am also reading, in a few articles I have run across on Twitter, that the popularity of health sharing ministries continues to grow, so that choice can also be considered.
So where are we headed now?
It will be interesting to see just how the numbers of people signing up for “health coverage” in the dying Obamacare exchanges shakes out for 2018. We’re not out of the woods yet in terms of the requirement to sign up for health coverage or face a tax penalty, but from so many articles I am reading on Twitter and other social media, people really want other options. I am anxious to see what happens in terms of new choices in the coming year.