The health insurance industry and business allies are stepping up their campaign to repeal another new Obamacare tax this fall — one that they argue will hit consumers smack in the health care part of their wallet.
As Congress returns from recess, expect to hear more about the health insurance tax, or HIT, as it’s known, a levy in the health care law to raise $116 billion through 2023. That money, in turn, is supposed to help finance expanded coverage. Continue Reading
America’s Health Insurance Plans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an insurance brokers association and other groups launched a digital advertising and social media campaign last month to stir opposition to the tax, especially in states of the lawmakers who might do something about it.
The campaign will formally launch inside the Beltway later this month, after having attracted several additional trade groups to the initial coalition.
The ads focus on the tax but not the health care law itself. The message is that the tax counters the goals of health reform by making insurance more expensive, and therefore less affordable. The cost is expected to be passed on to consumers.
But the tax is also a large piece of the funding for the insurance expansion — which, in turn, will create millions of new customers for insurers, many with government subsidies.
The health insurance tax won’t hit the premiums of people who work for many large employers — which cover a great majority of working Americans. Most big employers already offer coverage through something called self-insurance — meaning they actually use their own dollars to pay the medical bills and use the insurers to administer the health plans. The employer, not the insurer, carries the risk.
The tax does apply to insurance companies that pick up the tab, including the private Medicare Advantage plans and those that will be sold to individuals on the new state-based Obamacare exchanges. It applies to most small-business plans, which are less likely to self-insure.
Nonpartisan federal experts estimate that the tax will be 2 percent to 2.5 percent of premiums to which it applies. That’s about $360 for a family plan in 2016 — or $30 per month, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Bills in the House and Senate would repeal the tax, which would collect $8 billion next year. The House bill has enough support to pass.
However, there’s a big barrier to actually repealing the tax, as opposed to just adding it to the list of more than 40 House repeal efforts that haven’t gone anywhere. It’s a key funding source for the central aim of the health care law — expanding insurance. Taking it off the books would add $116 billion to the deficit over a decade.