What Will Become of Your Health Insurance?

by `Jackie Cohen
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About 4 million people who currently have coverage may lose their health insurance in 2019, and as many as 17 million people would become uninsured by 2027.That statistic comes from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Tax and Jobs Act that President Donald Trump signed into law last week.

The law eliminates the penalty for not having insurance, starting in 2019.  This measure follows the Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare — it had required consumers to obtain insurance or pay a penalty unless they qualified for certain limited exceptions.

The penalty for not having insurance in 2018 remains what it was in previous years: for each adult, $695 or $2.5% of household income in excess of tax filing thresholds, whichever is higher.

While data on the outcome of the latest open enrollment has yet to be released, for the prior year’s open enrollment (for 2017 coverage), about 7% of Americans government-sponsored via government-sponsored individual insurance marketplaces, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Also that year, about 9% of Americans went without insurance, and the rest obtained coverage through employers, Medicare or Medicaid.

The penalty for not having insurance was intended to stabilize premiums in a way that allowed people with pre-existing health conditions to obtain coverage without having to pay exorbitant premiums.

Those exorbitant premiums are expected to return as a result of the Obamacare repeal: Without the requirement to have coverage, healthy people may go without insurance, depriving the insurers of the funds to help cover those with pre-existing conditions.

About 85% of those who participated in the health insurance marketplaces under Obamacare qualified for some form of subsidies — and they are expected to not feel the brunt of the premium increases in 2019 and beyond.

However, people who make too much money to qualify for subsidies of their health insurance might not be able to afford coverage.

The prospect of a less predictable customer pool might make some insurers decide to stop offering individual consumer health insurance, which in turn will result in fewer choices for consumers.

Readers, are you concerned about what might happen to your health insurance coverage?

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