The Affordable Care Act continues to be plagued by complications. This time, Obama administration officials have announced that 800,000 people were sent incorrect tax statements about their coverage for 2014. Perhaps because of this, open enrollment on Healtcare.gov will continue through April, according to government officials.
Overall, enrollment numbers have been good so far, topping 11 million. Both President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced relatively strong sign up numbers for 2014.
The incorrect tax statements have seriously marred that good news, however. Nearly 20% of the statements sent by HealthCare.gov were incorrect, meaning that adjustments will now have to be made. This will be particularly troublesome for the 50,000 users who have already filed their taxes with this information. Those who received too large a tax credit will be required to repay the government, while those whose credit was too small will receive a refund. Ultimately, nearly 1 million will have to wait for their refunds, and the 50,000 who have already filed may very well have to file again once the details have been corrected.
The open enrollment extension will help give government officials and individuals time to correct these mistakes, as well as avoid fines for being uninsured. Those fines were set at $95 or 1% of total income—whichever is higher. As of 2015, those fines will grow to $325 or 2% of total income. Millions are eligible for exemptions, however…if the problems with the system can be resolved in a timely manner.
There is also the question of the enrollment period timing. The period for 2014 began November 15 and ended February 15, which, some argue, was a bad time for it, what with the holidays and other distractions. A draft rule to address this issue was released in November, with federal officials proposing that the sign up period for 2016 and thereafter should be October 1 through December 15.
The Obama administration has promised to correct the errors and provide healthcare for all, but they will need to show improvement quickly to stem the tide of negative backlash this and previous errors has caused.