Will “political gimmick” of eliminating the ACA Individual Mandate in the GOP Tax bill cause higher premiums for Americans not subsidized. Yep!

Everyone wants lower personal taxes and lowering corporate taxes will create more jobs and higher wages. But political gimmicks to get votes, such as eliminating the Individual Mandate (I Mandate), is another example of weak leadership and the GOP being unable to pull its ranks together. The GOP won’t get another chance to lower or reform taxes yet they once again muddle up the effort with gimmicks.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repeal of the insurance requirement would save the government $338 billion over 10 years. That estimate comes mainly because the CBO projects that fewer people would seek subsidized coverage.

There’s a gimmick for you because there is no evidence or reason to think that people who could get a subsidy won’t sign up for it simply because there is no mandate penalty. If you knew that you qualified for a subsidy for your health insurance why on earth would you not sign up?

CBO estimates the number of uninsured would rise by 13 million during the same 10 year period used for the budget gimmick. The CBO has been so wildly incorrect in its estimates concerning coverage that why would we believe its estimate of 13 million fewer covered. BTW, statistics show that there are approximately 30 million Americans without any coverage while only 10 million covered under the ACA individual exchanges. And that’s with the Mandate in place so the I Mandate makes little impact.

The I Mandate as well as all of the ACA should go away and be replaced but eliminating the I Mandate will definitely put pressure on insurers to increase premiums on their individual plans in or out of the exchanges. If people are not punished by a tax if they don’t get coverage, then allowing people to buy coverage only if they need it will certainly lead to higher premiums.

Business Example:
Let’s assume that my business replaces windows in office buildings.
I get a call to estimate the price to replace a window in an office building. I’m told that the window is on the first floor. I quote $100.
But when I show up to do the work I discover that the window is actually on the tenth floor, not first floor. Do you think my price to install the window will go up?
You bet it would because the risk to install the window has gone up!

So, the result will be higher premiums for people who need good comprehensive health insurance. But there is hope for those of us who are optimist as foolish as I may seem. The GOP’s tax bill does not eliminate the I Mandate until January 2019. That would give the DOL/HHS/IRS time to spell out the guidelines on President Trump’s Executive Order providing for Association Health Plans and for selling cross state lines.
The potential from the President’s EO could bring many new insurers and plans into the market providing more choice and lower premiums to those Americans whose premiums we believe will increase. But that starts the clock ticking to get those new guidelines to the public so that insurers and more likely TPAs can develop the plans we all need.
OK, so I’m trying to be optimistic even though I dislike mucking up the GOP tax bill with gimmicks. If we had our way I’d say just reduce the tax rates and brackets but leave the other “Cr***p” like SALT and medical expense deductions alone. But the GOP leadership can’t seem to keep it simple, defensible and passable. We saw that on R&R didn’t we?
As I write this the Congress is off for yet another holiday break (Thanksgiving) but when you read this the Congress will be back in session and we will see that once again, we’re right!
As is usual in politics, the benefit and cost for 330 million Americans is being adversely impacted by the political and media agenda on 6 million(or fewer) Americans. It could be positive for all with proper leadership on the topics of budget and healthcare.
Let’s keep the pressure up cause we’re all in this together.
Until next week.
Mark Reynolds, RHU


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