KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Health Law Help For Those With Preexisting Conditions; IRS To Enforce Individual Mandate Through Refunds

Associated Press: "Starting in July, a special high-risk pool will offer coverage to uninsured people with pre-existing health conditions at a cost similar to what everyone else pays. It's the first test of whether the administration can deliver on Obama's vision within the budget Congress set. But some vulnerable patients are probably going to feel a little cheated." The reason: You have to be uninsured for six months to take advantage of the new program, so those who pay higher premiums in existing state-run high-risk pools won't be able to switch easily (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/16).

The Oregonian: Another fix to the preexisting-conditions problem is coming, too. "Companies avoid people with chronic health problems who may be likely to file expensive claims. The new federal health reforms will end this practice. Starting in September, insurers must allow children below age 19 access to their parents' health plan regardless of health status. In 2014, insurers will be required to accept adults with pre-existing conditions" (Burke, 4/15).

The Wall Street Journal: "The Internal Revenue Service won't audit you to make sure you have purchased health insurance under provisions of the new health-care law-but it may withhold your tax refund if you can't demonstrate that you are insured, an IRS official said Thursday. ... Under the new law, penalties for failure to purchase health insurance apply starting in 2014. By 2016, the penalty for lacking qualifying insurance is the greater of $695 per year, or 2.5% of household income up to $2,085. Those who aren't required to file a tax return because their income is below the filing threshold ... aren't subject to penalties" (Vaughan, 4/15).

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