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.
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If not delayed or repealed, HIT is expected to tap American wallets for $14.3 billion next year, and the hardest hit will be average Americans.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.