Obamacare Exemption Questions, Verification Issues Cause More Confusion

Image: Obamacare Exemption Questions, Verification Issues Cause More Confusion

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 10:31 AM

By Lisa Furgison

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The lack of exemption forms and an adequate means of income verification for insurance subsidies are fueling confusion over Obamacare, which has already stirred up frustration across the country from people who want to enroll but can't due to technical problems with the government's healthcare website.

According to Politico, the exemption forms won't be ready for a few more weeks and there is still a debate about how to guarantee that people who get subsidies to help pay for insurance actually qualify for them.

Republicans say these hiccups are further examples of how flawed the healthcare law really is and why it needs some serious fine tuning and adjustments, if it's not defunded or repealed.

“Instead of focusing on how to give big corporations a break from the law, the Obama administration should focus on making sure individuals know about their options for coverage,” Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn complained in a statement to Politico.

The Obama administration estimates 12 million people will file for an exemption, under the law but right now the forms to get an exemption aren't available. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the exemptions forms will be online within a few weeks. The forms are currently going through a review process and a 30-day comment period.

As things stand now, there's a long list of exemptions that can be found on Healthcare.gov website.

For example, people dealing with certain hardships like foreclosure or homelessness can qualify for an exemption. A low income individual living in a state that didn't expand its Medicaid program can also qualify. Certain religious groups are exempt as well.

For those who aren't exempt, but need help footing the bill for healthcare there are subsidies available. But insurance companies are worried that they won't be able to adequately verify the incomes of subsidy applicants from one year to the next.

Subsidies are available for single individuals with an annual income of $46,000, for couples making up to $62,000 and slightly more for those with dependents, according to The Wall Street Journal. The amount of the subsidy varies depending on a person's income.

Insurance companies are required to ask about a person's estimated income level for the coming year. Tax records are checked to make sure a person's income is close to the previously filed amount. If a person underestimates their income, they'll have to pay back some, or all, of the subsidy.

But Republican opponents of Obamacare say it's too difficult to get subsidy back and want a tougher verification process.

Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black has proposed legislation that would make the verification and subsidy process more strict, but President Barack Obama has called it "unnecessary" and has threatened to veto it.

Related Stories:

Rules Issued for Obamacare's Individual Mandate

The Tax Man Cometh to Police You on Obamacare

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