Unless Congress takes action, one previously-delayed provision of the Affordable Care Act will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018, potentially raising premiums for consumers.
Obamacare's health insurance tax, which has been delayed in the past, hits insurance companies with a 4-6 percent tax on every plan sold. As the Washington Post reported in August, "UnitedHealth Group and a coalition of other groups against the tax have been circulating research from Oliver Wyman estimating that premiums will rise 2.6 percent next year if the tax is allowed to go into effect."
A survey released exclusively to the Washington Examiner by the Winston Group, which conducted the research among 1,000 registered voters over the phone from Nov. 14-15, found 58 percent of respondents favored suspending the tax for 2018. Twenty-one percent opposed it and 20 percent replied, "Don't know," though most (61 percent) also said they had not "seen, read, or heard, anything" about it.
Asked, "If the health insurance tax is not suspended before the end of the year, who will you blame?" 33 percent of respondents pointed to Republicans, and 19 percent pointed to Democrats. Twenty-five percent said they would blame President Trump himself.
Questioned more broadly on who they will blame if their healthcare costs and insurance premiums increase over the next year, 46 percent answered Republican elected officials, while only 28 percent said Democratic elected officials.
As we noted at the time, a Kaiser Family Foundation report published Aug. 10 outlining expected premium changes in 2018 made the observation, "An additional factor driving rates this year is the return of the ACA's health insurance tax, which adds an estimated 2 to 3 percentage points to premiums."
In April, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform wrote in an op-ed, "The health insurance tax directly impacts as many as 1.7 million small businesses, 11 million households that purchase through the individual insurance market, and 23 million households covered through their jobs. The National Federation of Independent Business estimates the tax could cost up to 286,000 in new jobs and cost small businesses $33 billion in lost sales by 2023."
With the clock running out, failure to pass reform in the Senate under their belts, and installment in control of all three branches of government, set to take effect in little more than a month, the HIT could be a problem for Republicans in Congress when voters realize a new tax went into effect under their leadership.