Trump touts and conservatives crow that Trumpcare is finally banishing the evil “individual mandate” which President Obama implemented to take away our freedoms and turn us into socialists by forcing us to buy a private-market product or else pay a fine to the IRS.
ObamaCare sought to require continuous coverage by levying a fine for each month a person goes without insurance. For 2016, the fine for going the entire year without insurance is $695 or 2.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income, whichever is higher.
Under ObamaCare, your total penalty payable to the IRS, for going a full year without insurance, would be $900 if your AGI is $36,000 ($36,000 x $2.5%).
Trumpcare keeps the mean ol’ IRS from fining you. Instead, it seeks to require continuous coverage by authorizing the insurance companies to penalize you. Under Trumpcare, if you go only two months without continuous coverage, the insurance companies will add a 30% surcharge to your premium each month for the next twelve months. If your premium would otherwise have been $550, it would be increased to $715 ($550 x 30% = $165 + $550 = $715).
Under Trumpcare, your total penalty payable to the insurance company, for going only two months without insurance, would be $1,980 ($165 x 12 months).
Although the Trumpcare bill has been lauded by conservatives for only being 60 pages (“small government”), it’s actually 124 pages and if you stop reading at page 60, you won’t know about the penalties.
Page 63, Line 1: “30% of the monthly premium rate.”
Page 62, Line 24: “Each month during the enforcement period.”
Page 64, Line 17: “Enforcement period” begins with the first month of the plan-year subsequent to enrollment, and ends with the last month of the plan-year.
Page 63, Line 19: Penalty applies to policyholders who are unable to demonstrate that there isn’t a period of 63 or more continuous days without coverage during the look-back period.
Page 64, Line 7: “Look-back period” = plan-year prior to enrollment.
Ironically, this part of Trumpcare — that makes the most-hated feature of ObamaCare worse for those wishing not to be told what to do by the government — is one of the few places in the 124-page bill that a reader can actually discern the meaning of the text. And that’s because Trumpcare is not a replacement law. It is merely an amending law, changing a few things to make it better for the wealthy, worse for the poor and putting Trump’s name on it, in their never-ceasing drive to deny President Obama his signature accomplishment and claim the first black president was a failure.
The vast majority of the 124 pages deals with severely limiting the Expansion of Medicaid which provides state-administered free coverage to the poorest among us. But most of it is unintelligible, standing alone, because it refers to the text of the ObamaCare bill and says “strike this and insert that” and “remove this jot and add this tittle” — it has to be read with the ObamaCare law to make sense.
The ObamaCare body of law is like a skyscraper — it took tons of materials and scads of diagrams and blueprints to erect it. Trumpcare is like a new owner of the skyscraper deciding he wants to limit who can walk through the front door and at which floors the elevator will stop. For that, he only needs a scant-few supplies and a diagram sketched out on the back of a lunchroom napkin.
He will never be able to erect, from ground up, the great new skyscraper that he promised. The best he will ever do is tinker with President Obama’s achievement.