Category Health Insurance

Health Law Fine on the Uninsured Will More Than Double

Health Overhaul Signups

Andrew Harnik/AP

WASHINGTON — The math is harsh: The federal penalty for having no health insurance is set to jump to $695, and the Obama administration is being urged to highlight that cold fact in its new pitch for health law sign-ups.

That means the 2016 sign-up season starting Nov. 1 could see penalties become a bigger focus for millions of people who have remained eligible for coverage, but uninsured. They’re said to be squeezed for money, and skeptical about spending what they have on health insurance.

Until now, health overhaul supporters have stressed the benefits: taxpayer subsidies that pay roughly 70 percent of the monthly premium, financial protection against sudden illness or an accident, and access to regular preventive and follow-up medical care.

But in 2016, the penalty f...

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Insurers Will Propose Changes to Obamacare

Insurers Will Propose Changes to Obamacare

LM Otero/AP

WASHINGTON — Insurers want to change President Barack Obama’s health care law to provide financial assistance for people buying bare-bones coverage. That would entice the healthy and the young, the industry says, holding down premiums.

So-called catastrophic plans are currently not eligible for the law’s subsidies, and only 2 percent of the 8 million consumers who signed up this year picked one. Subsidies bring down the cost of monthly premiums.

The proposed change is part of a package of recommendations that America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, plans to release Wednesday...

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New Woes for Wrong Tax Info Sent Out

Health Overhaul Tax Troubles

Don Ryan/AP

WASHINGTON — In a new setback for the health care law and the people it’s supposed to help, the government said Friday it made a tax-reporting error that’s fouling up the filings of nearly a million Americans.

After a successful sign-up season, the latest goof could signal new problems with the complex links between President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and the nation’s income tax system.

Officials said the government sent the wrong tax information to about 800,000 customers, and they’re asking those affected to delay filing their 2014 returns. The issue involves a new government form called a 1095-A, which is like a W-2 form for health care for people who got subsidized private coverage under Obama’s law.

It’s just another black mark on the administra...

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IRS: More Taxpayers Paid Obamacare Fine Than Expected

Healthcare and Taxes

Getty Images

They paid their Obamacare fine, even though many of them apparently didn’t have to.

About 7.5 million taxpayers so far have paid a penalty on their taxes for failing to have health insurance last year, as required for the first time by the Affordable Care Act. That number is well in excess of original expectations, officials said Monday.

The average penalty paid was about $200 a person, and in all $1.5 billion was collected by the Internal Revenue Service in these fines.

The Treasury Department said about 300,000 people who paid the penalty likely qualified for an exemption from having to have health coverage. There are a slew of exemptions from the Obamacare mandate based on income status or certain hardships.

The IRS will be reaching out to these taxpayers to inform them ...

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5 Things to Know About Filing Your Taxes and Obamacare

obamacare irs tax filing

Carolyn Kaster/AP

WASHINGTON — The IRS is cutting taxpayer services just as President Barack Obama’s health law is making filing a tax return more complicated.

The agency blames budget cuts enacted by Congress. An IRS watchdog says service problems at the tax agency will make complying with the law harder for well-intentioned taxpayers.

“Without adequate support, many taxpayers will be frustrated, some will make potentially costly mistakes, others will incur higher compliance costs when forced to seek information and assistance from tax professionals,” said Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent office within the IRS.

“Still others,” Olson said, “will simply give up and not file.”

Olson released her annual report to Congress on Wednesday, less than a week before th...

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Survey: Nearly 9 in 10 Adults Now Have Health Insurance

Health Overhaul Privacy

Don Ryan/AP

WASHINGTON — Underlining a change across the nation, nearly 9 out of 10 adults now say they have health insurance, according to an extensive survey released Monday.

As recently as 2013, slightly more than 8 out of 10 had coverage.

Whether the new number from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index turns out to be a high-water mark for President Barack Obama’s health care law, or a milestone on the path toward his goal of getting virtually all U.S. residents covered, remains to be seen.

The law’s future is still up in the air, and will turn on factors ranging from an upcoming Supreme Court decision on consumer subsidies to actions by Republican leaders in states opposed to Medicaid expansion.

The Gallup-Healthways survey found that the share of adults who lack insurance dropped...

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Four Americans: How Obamacare Affected Them

Health Overhaul Personal Stories

Seth Perlman/APLloyd and Shawn Turner signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act last Decmeber. The timing of the new law couldn’t have been better for Shawn, who was diagnosed with cancer after few weeks after her coverage started.

CHICAGO — More than 7 million people have signed up for private health insurance under the system introduced last year for those who were uninsured or had policies considered substandard.

What happened to them since has varied greatly.

Many have been happy with their new insurance, according to polls. Others are encountering a variety of snags — high premiums, telephone runarounds or difficulty getting care...

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U.S. Improves Privacy on Health Insurance Website

Health Overhaul Privacy

Don Ryan/AP

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration appears to be making broader changes to protect consumer information on the government’s health insurance website, after objections from lawmakers and privacy advocates.

The Associated Press reported last week that details such as consumers’ income and tobacco use were going to private companies with a commercial interest in such data. AP also reported that a number of companies had embedded connections on, raising privacy and security issues for some tech experts.

An independent analysis of the health care website, released Saturday, showed that the number of embedded connections to private companies had dropped from 50 to 30...

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Feds Close Insurance Loopholes on Preventive Care

Nurse putting an oxygen mask

Getty ImagesUnder new rules issued Monday, insurers can no longer charge patients for anesthesia services in connection with colonoscopies to screen for cancer risk.

WASHINGTON — From contraception to colonoscopies, the Obama administration Monday closed a series of insurance loopholes on coverage of preventive care.

The department of Health and Human Services said insurers must cover at least one birth control option under each of 18 methods approved by the FDA — without copays.

Also, insurers can’t charge patients for anesthesia services in connection with colonoscopies to screen for cancer risk.

President Barack Obama’s health care law requires most insurance plans to cover preventive care at no additional charge to patients...

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Medical Bills? Tips to Protect Yourself Until Laws Improve

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The Medical Debt Relief Act of 2015 would strengthen federal laws to better protect the credit of consumers hounded by medical-debt collectors.

The proposed legislation would remove repaid medical debts from credit reports within 45 days of the debts being paid off.

Rep. John Carney, a Democrat from Delaware, and Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican from Kentucky, introduced the bill last month, but it is “a long way from passage,” CBS News reports today...

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