Q: How did "Obamacare" wind up in the tax bill?
A: The Senate version repeals the Affordable Care Act's tax
penalties on people who don't have health insurance. That would
result in government savings from fewer consumers applying for
taxpayer-subsidized coverage, giving GOP tax writers nearly $320
billion over 10 years to help pay for tax cuts.
What's more, repealing the fines would deal a blow to the
Obama-era health law after a more ambitious Republican takedown
collapsed earlier this year.
Q: Those fines have been very unpopular, so how could repealing
them undermine the health law? Other parts of the ACA will remain on
A: Premiums will go up, and that's never popular. The fines were
meant to nudge healthy people to get covered. Because insurance
markets work by pooling risks, premiums from healthy people subsidize
care for the sick.
Without some arm-twisting to get covered, some healthy people will
stay out of the pool. That's likely to translate to a 10 percent
increase in premiums for those left behind, people more likely to
have health problems and need comprehensive coverage, says the
Congressional Budget Office.
The CBO also estimated that 13 million more people would be
uninsured in 2027 without the penalties. If they have a serious
accident or illness, uninsured people get slammed with big bills, and
taxpayers wind up indirectly subsidizing the cost.
Q: So just taking away an unpopular penalty would destabilize the
health insurance law?
A: Repealing the fines is part of a broader context. -
Q&A: Tax bill impacts on health law coverage and Medicare, Newser, 12/05/2017
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