The Health Insurance Tax: Obamacare’s Forgotten Tax

Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Congress still has the opportunity to repeal the long-delayed health insurance tax that will take effect in 2018, even with the Obamacare repeal stymied by moderate Republicans in the Senate.

Obamacare created the health insurance tax, which places a direct tax on insurance premiums. Democrats designed the tax to be calculated based on insurance premiums, meaning that the cost of the tax would pass directly to small businesses and middle-class families through higher premiums. The health insurance even impacts seniors through Medicare Advantage plans and low-income Americans that rely on Medicaid managed plans.

The Heritage Foundation reported that if Republicans fail to repeal the health insurance tax (HIT), premiums would increase by an additional two to three percent.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the HIT will cost $12.3 billion next year and collect over $145 billion in higher taxes over the next ten years.

The American Action Forum estimated that the tax will increase premiums by almost $5,000 over a decade and that Americans making less than $50,000 will pay half of the tax.

The National Federation of Independent Business contends that the tax could cost up to 286,000 in new jobs and cost small businesses $33 billion in lost sales in the next six year.

North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell noted that if Congress does not eliminate the health insurance tax, Medicare Advantage plans in the state would increase by 30 percent in 2018. In North Carolina, the state would save roughly $45 million if Congress eliminated the tax. In North Carolina alone, the HIT tax could impact 843,724 small businesses and 1,600,000 workers.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) noted that more than 100 Democrats and 250 Republicans voted to delay the health insurance tax.

After Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) halted the Obamacare repeal in the Senate, Sen. Lamar Alexander announced he would hold hearings on bipartisan solutions to stabilize the health care market. It remains possible that a revived Obamacare repeal effort or a bipartisan bill could include the repeal of the health insurance tax.

Moderate House lawmakers suggested that they could repeal the medical device tax and other taxes in their proposed bipartisan legislation.

The Stop the HIT Coalition, which represents millions of small business owners, urged the Senate for a repeal of the health insurance tax in any health care legislation. HIT said:

With small business owners and middle-class families facing a $14.3 billion tax hike in 2018 alone, Congress must take urgent action now to repeal the health insurance tax once and for all. There is already bipartisan consensus on the need for repeal, and now is the time for Congress to protect millions of small business owners and their employees from this harmful tax.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, argued, “President Trump and the Republican majority in Congress promised an agenda of lower taxes, more jobs, higher wages, and lower healthcare costs through reduced premiums. They can ensure that they are able to fully keep that promise by delaying the health insurance tax immediately.”


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