Obamacare: Confused yet?

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to be fully in place now. As a matter of law (as written by Congress and signed by the president), it should have required (in January) health insurance or tax penalties from every employer with at least 50 full-time employees.

As a matter of law (as currently and temporarily defined by the president), it now requires – well, nothing really, except that it killed a lot of insurance plans that it now says you can resurrect for this year. Wait, no, you can resurrect them for two years, if the states say you can. Wait, no, you could resurrect them, but can’t unless the insurance company agrees. OK.

Wait – your employer does not have to provide insurance until next January. Unless it has fewer than 100 employees, then it can wait until 2016 if it signs something saying it did not do anything to actually make it have fewer than 100 employees. Or something. But you have to pay a penalty for not having insurance this year.

Wait, sorry, you don’t have to pay a penalty this year if your policy last year was canceled and buying a new one is too expensive. Wait, no, another notice – now you don’t have to pay a penalty this year or next year if you say that you used to have a policy, whether or not you did, and that a new policy would be too expensive, whether or not it would.

OK, now we have it. All old policies are cancelled, except after they are, they are reborn, if everyone agrees and says they aren’t doing anything sneaky. Your penalty is a matter of law, but you can avoid it by saying you once had a plan and cannot afford a new plan, whether you did or whether you can or not. And your employer has to pay a penalty, but not now, and not next year if the employer says it has fewer than 100 employees but not because it is a mean employer.

All right, we are all set now. Got it?

Obamacare: The gift that keeps on giving. Up, that is.

James W. Allen

Martinez

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