Yves here. Lambert, in his relentless Obamacare skullduggery, has unearthed yet another ugly feature of this Rube Goldberg contraption for enriching health insurers: unprecedented levels of required reporting to the Federal government. Your humble blogger had already flagged one, that Obamacare is designed with the bizarre assumption that everyone in America has a steady paycheck. You are supposed to be able to estimate your income. How can people who are part-time workers, with employers who ratchet up and down how much time they need, supposed to comply? Or even worse, how about self-employed people, who have variable and unpredictable income and expenses, as well as the occasional collection issue.
But Obamacare policyholders are ALSO required to report on a raft of “lifestyle changes” including when you become pregnant (which means you also need to report if you have a change in that “status” via miscarriage or abortion), or a change in “household size”. One assumes that means “household” from an IRS standpoint, but could it mean from a Census perspective? Do renters have to report if they take on a roommate?
And even better, as Lambert discusses in detail, HHS also makes it hard to prove that you’ve made the required updates. Charming.
By Lambert Strether. Originally published at Corrente
I got a cheery note in the mail from HHS about “life changes” that the grateful recipients of ObamaCare must “report”. Be on the lookout for the real piece of skullduggery, because it’s not obvioius at first glance:
Life changes to report
You must report a change if you:
Get married or divorced
Have a child, adopt a child, or place a child for adoption
Have a change in income
Get health coverage through a job or a program like Medicare or Medicaid
Change your place of residence
Have a change in disability status
Gain or lose a dependent
Experience other changes that may affect your income and household size
Other changes to report: change in tax filing status; change of citizenship or immigration status; incarceration or release from incarceration; change in status as an American Indian/Alaska Native or tribal status; correction to name, date of birth, or Social Security number.
When and how to report changes
You should report these changes to the Marketplace as soon as possible.
If these changes qualify you for a special enrollment period to change plans, in most cases you have 60 days from the life event to enroll in new coverage. If the changes qualify you for more or less savings, it’s important to make adjustments as soon as possible.
Important: Do not report these changes by mail.
You can report these changes 2 ways:
Online. Log in to your account. Select your application, then select “Report a life change” from the menu on the left.
By phone. Contact the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325)
Learn more from the IRS about how changes can affect the premium tax credit you may be eligible for.
Look. Wouldn’t it be simpler if they just make ObamaCare recipients wear ankle bracelets?
As for the skullduggery:
No, it’s not that they say you’ve got to tell HHS about the “life change” and mention in passing that you’ve got to go
incriminate yourself at to the IRS web site to find out the financial impact of the “life change” (and remember, if you’re “on the bubble” with an income or eligibility issue, ObamaCare’s defenders, even Kaiser, say you should game the system, so don’t commit yourself with HHS before you check with the IRS; there are land mines everywhere!)
Yes, it’s this. This is the real gaslighting:
Important: Do not report these changes by mail.
You’ve got no record, and you’ve got no protection. If the website is down, or it doesn’t accept your data, or the backend is still screwed up (which it is) you could get a shock when you find out what happened to your subsidy, in the best case, or be guilty of perjury, in the worst. It’s madness to use a website for this information. And if you use the phone, be sure to record the call. There’s no equivalent, now, of notarizing your paperwork and sending it to them, signature required and return receipt requested.
This after months in which the website didn’t work, and the HHS has screwed up hundreds of thousands of accounts! If these people were worthy of my hatred, I’d hate them.
NOTE  Note this is totally a class thing. If your income is four times the Federal Poverty line, you don’t get into ObamaCare anyhow. That means that the vast majority of the economists, and big shot academics, and career “progressives,” and lobbyists, and insurance company executives, and talking heads, and consultants who foisted this thing on us are not subject to the same onerous reporting requirements they impose on us. Shocker, huh?