Editorial: Congress needs to delay or repeal health insurance tax

You might not have said anything when they announced that ObamaCare-compliant health insurance premiums are going up nearly 40 percent next year, because you get your insurance elsewhere.

You might not have said anything when they announced there will be no ObamaCare-compliant health insurance policies available in 14 Nevada counties, because you get your insurance elsewhere.

You may have just shrugged about the tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance, because that is not your insurance.

You may not have spoken out when Congress failed to pass the “skinny repeal” that would have dropped the penalties for those who don’t buy health insurance, including 90,000 Nevadans, because you have health insurance.

Now they are coming for you.

If Congress fails to act soon, everyone who pays for health insurance will get hammered with a new tax in 2018. In 2015 Congress declared a one-year moratorium on the ObamaCare provision that imposes a health insurance tax of almost 3 percent — dubbed appropriately enough with the acronym HIT — in 2017, but that expires at the end of the year.

In 2016 the HIT tax cost insured Americans $11.3 billion, but that is to increase by 26 percent if reimposed in 2018.

If not delayed or repealed, HIT is expected to tap American wallets for $14.3 billion next year, and the hardest hit will be average Americans. One analysis of the tax estimates that fully half the tax will be paid by those earning between $10,000 and $50,000 a year.

A study by Oliver Wyman broke down the cost by state and found that in Nevada those with small group family insurance would pay $453 in HIT tax. Those with large group family policies would pay $519. Even Medicare Advantage users would have to pony up an additional $271, and Medicaid users would also be hit with $120 in taxes.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, has noted, “The health insurance tax directly impacts as many as 1.7 million small businesses, 11 million households that purchase through the individual insurance market, and 23 million households covered through their jobs. The National Federation of Independent Business estimates the tax could cost up to 286,000 in new jobs and cost small businesses $33 billion in lost sales by 2023.”

This is in addition to a tax on employer provided care, a tax on innovative medicines and treatments, a tax for failing to buy insurance, a tax on medical devices and taxes on health savings accounts, Norquist says.

“The trillion dollars in higher taxes have restricted health care choice, increased costs, made saving more difficult, and granted government more control over care at the expense of individual control,” the tax reform guru argues. “The passage of these taxes also broke President Obama’s promise not to increase any form of tax on any middle class family.”

Additionally, the higher cost is expected to result in people dropping their health insurance, resulting in an increase in the uninsured.

President Obama promised that his healthcare law would decrease premiums by $2,500 a year. Instead, it increased premiums by nearly $5,000. Still Congress has not been able to repeal it.

So, the very least Congress can do is repeal or delay the costly tax on health insurance premiums. And we do mean the least.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

4 comments on “Editorial: Congress needs to delay or repeal health insurance tax

  1. deleted says:

    I get it. ObamaCare is like the Nazis.

    Interesting comparison. Red meat to the rabid dogs on the right.

    Guess they got to be fed too once in a while.

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    Nevada has non-entities in the House and Senate that should be fighting this thievery but remain silent because the 2018 campaign starts soon and they have to see how active senators and reps deal with it, do our non-entities represent us or do they fall in line with the rabble rousers like John McCain in that rarified atmosphere in Washington?? I say Nevada non-entities because who can name all of them?

  3. Barbara says:

    Obama and HHS have issued over 1000 waivers and exemptions for the ACA, many designed (for obvious reasons) to not take effect until after Obama had left office. Just as the CBO scored all the taxes collected under the ACA, but pushed out most of the expenses to the outer years to artificially lower the cost, Americans have been shield from the disastrous effects of this ill conceived law.

    I would suggest it is better to go the other way Thomas and repeal ALL the waivers and exemptions including the one Congress received exempting them from the ACA.

    Continuing to pass legislation which will have the end result of keeping Obamacare in place only advances tyranny. Only when faced with the reality of the true cost and burden of the ACA, will Americans demand Congress act to repeal “root and branch” this disastrous law.

    If we continue to pass piecemeal legislation that has the effect of shoring up Obamacare and shielding Americans from the consequences of the ACA, there will be no public demand to repeal it until it is too late. It is time for Americans to pay the piper and feel the full effects of this law. There is a cost to freedom; kicking this can down the road only leads to tyranny.

  4. Rincon says:

    So Thomas is getting worked up about new taxes to pay for our health care. Fair enough, but tell me Thomas, why have you defended a health care system that cost each of us 40% more than what Germans, Australians, Japanese, Swedes, etc. paid for health care that kept them alive longer than us?

    As so often happens, Conservatives focus on the mechanism of payment instead of the actual cost. No matter who pays or how, the elephant in the room is that our health care system costs us far more than any people on Earth. From the Economist:

    “European countries’ health care systems are, without exception, simpler than America’s, which is a bewildering hodgepodge of private and public systems. For those over 65, America has a single payer system, Medicare, that dishes out taxpayer money to for-profit private health care providers with virtually no cost controls. For those earning below a certain threshold (which varies by state), there is another single payer system, Medicaid, that does have cost controls. For those who have served in the armed forces, America has a single payer system, the Veterans’ Administration; some veterans are treated in government run hospitals as with Britain’s National Health service. For those who are employed by businesses above a certain size, America requires employers to provide private insurance subsidized by a regressive tax break. For those who earn too much for Medicaid, but whose employers do not provide insurance, America has Obamacare, a heavily regulated, government subsidized system of private insurance exchanges with an individual mandate, like the Netherlands and Switzerland.”

    Prior to Obamacare, the uninsured had to pay for their own care, but were charged rates vastly greater than those paid by any of the other systems. If they couldn’t pay, they declared bankruptcy and the other patients were saddled with the bill. The reason that we’re in this mess is because we created our system piecemeal. While both liberals and conservatives fight anything but their proposals, what is needed is an agreement to pick a country whose system seems to work the best and agree to emulate it in stages, but ideologues on both sides won’t have it and our country will continue its descent into the third world.

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