Looking forward to 2015

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

GUEST VIEW: Politicians can’t be trusted.

Many businesses in low-wage industries have hired more part-time workers and cut the hours of full-timers recently to soften the impact of new health law requirements that take effect Thursday, some consultants say. Alan Schlossberg, who has been preparing taxes for 15 years, and Gail Camara-Marks, who has been practicing for 9 years, will explain the Affordable Care Act and explore topics including individual mandate, premium tax credit, penalties and Medicare surtax on investment income. “We were approached by the presenters, Gail and Alan, who expressed an interest in sharing their knowledge to our patrons,” Jason Bloom, the library’s assistant director, said. The strategies have had only a modest impact on job growth, which has accelerated substantially this year, but could take a somewhat bigger toll next year as firms gear up for an expanded health care mandate in 2016.

Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Why am I going through this craziness now?” Why is an activity that is largely (though not entirely) tax-motivated built around the end of the calendar year rather than tax filing season? For those who want coverage for 2015 but haven’t enrolled yet, the next deadline is February 15th. “Just because people maybe have missed the December 15th deadline and don’t have coverage for January 1st, doesn’t mean they should wait longer to get coverage,” Gundersen Health System Executive Director of External Affairs Michael Richards said. “We encourage people to get out there, shop around the marketplace. By answering a few simple questions during the tax interview, clients will understand if they qualify for money-saving tax credits, and with the help of GetInsured, can enroll in a health insurance plan that fits their budget. If they have questions, there’s resources available in the community, whether it is through licensed insurance brokers or through certified through application counselors in the communities.” “The first year of enrollment last year was a little longer just because it was so new to everybody,” Richards said. “This year, it’s a little bit shorter of a window, and it’ll be about the same time as last year as well.”

Under the health care law, businesses that employ at least 100 full-time workers — or full-time equivalents, including part-time workers — must offer health benefits to at least 70% of those working at least 30 hours a week by Thursday, or pay a penalty. The health coverage mandate for individuals took effect last January, but the Obama administration pushed back the effective date for businesses in 2013. Obviously, congressmen who voted for it don’t live in the real world of mortgages, food budgets and car payments, where real Americans actually have to pay their bills. Congress doesn’t even know the real cost, and neither do the ObamaCare winners, the ones who get subsidies from other Americans to pay for their insurance.

But thanks to tax credits, health insurance may be more affordable than expected. “The ACA affects Americans beyond health insurance-it impacts their taxes,” said David Prokupek, CEO, Jackson Hewitt®. “The tax penalty for being uninsured in 2015 can have a significant impact on people’s refunds. That’s why we’re working to help clients understand how they may be affected, and offer them an easy process to get enrolled in health insurance, thanks to GetInsured.” “With a limited time frame for consumers to enroll, we’re happy to be working with Jackson Hewitt again this year to make it as efficient as possible for Americans to understand the implications of the ACA and find a plan that’s right for them,” added Krishnan. Michelle Neblett, senior director of labor and workforce policy for the National Restaurant Association, says many restaurants are being more cautious about boosting the workweek of part-timers to 30 hours or more, doling out such increases to reward top performers. A Daily Caller New Foundation analysis of the Congressional Budget Office data revealed that ObamaCare will cost taxpayers $1.38 trillion through 2024. Free health insurance assistance is available at any of Jackson Hewitt’s 6,300 locations, by phone at 866-652-6321 or online at getinsured.com/jacksonhewitt.

Businesses with fewer than 100 employees also already have felt some impact from the health law, says a new survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business trade group. Those that provide health insurance now must offer coverage for mental health and other services — unless they’re grandfathered under existing plans — boosting premiums, says Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB director of federal policy. Mike DeVoge, owner of a 12-employee marina in Conneaut Lake, Pa., says costs for the six workers who are eligible for insurance recently increased 40% and are set to rise another 60% in 2016.

For years, Gene has urged Congress to allow people to make deductible gifts right up to the time they file their tax returns, much as they do now with contributions to IRAs. Former House Ways & Means Committee Chair Dave Camp included the idea in his tax reform plan, and the House passed a schedule change earlier this year.. In the early 1950s, insurance companies saw an opportunity to help cushion the cost of major medical events and offered “hospitalization” coverage.

For instance, a taxpayer could easily be nudged to give a bit more as he is filing. “Give the money to your favorite charity instead of the IRS” is a powerful motivator—especially when you can see your tax bill instantly shrink. And some consumers may benefit if ACA open enrollment roughly coincides with the sign-up period for employer-based insurance and its typical January 1 effective date. While the number of physicians has gone up 200 percent, the number of administrators, those who do not provide actual care, has increased by 3,000 percent. But if the aim of these tax benefits is to maximize charitable giving or the purchase of insurance, policymakers are missing a great opportunity by failing to tie them to filing season.

The new Congress needs to listen to the people who elected them, especially physicians and patients, not academics, executives and economists — those who engineer pre-paid “plans,” which are erroneously called insurance. The answer will come from people (who make up what is called the “free market”) figuring out how to solve their own problems, not from prescriptions thrust on them by politicians and their multimillion-dollar, “supersmart” consultants.

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