The drafts (yes, plural) of the ACA (a.k.a. Affordable Care Act), has been released and boy is the longest one a doozey! It’s sixty draft pages (the “short” form is 21 pages) long, is sprinkled with bad grammar (“Based on your best guess, do you expect your total household income be less than”) and one of the first things you see on the application is this:
”This document (the “questionnaire”) represents each possible item that may need to be asked for successful eligibility determinations.”
and a few paragraphs later:
“Most applicants will need to complete less than one-third of these items.”
Well, that’s good news! Now let’s take a look at what kinds of “one-third” we’ll be forced to answer.
Note: On the draft form, your Social Security number in the first section is listed as “(optional)”. Have you ever seen that on a federal form administered by the IRS? And, of course, that “optional” goes away in Section VII, where it becomes mandatory if you’re applying for health insurance. If you’re not applying for health insurance, then you don’t have to provide your Social Security number; but why include the person at all if they’re not applying?
Under section IV A, is this question:
”2. Do you want to find out if [you/your family] can get help paying for health insurance?”
And its explanation:
”The next two questions are only asked if the person checks that they don’t want to apply for financial assistance in the item above. The idea is to capture a couple of items to assess whether it may be worth their time to apply anyway. These items serve the purpose of trying to promote the use of the financial aid application for people who initially may not think they qualify. These questions aren’t an actual determination of eligibility.”
So they don’t just ask if you’re eligible or want it, they just push financial aid.
They also ask about the state of your marriage, as in:
“Does [Household contact] live with this spouse?”
They get very specific about what sort of household make-up you have. I’m not talking about Revlon here, I’m talking who is living in your house with you. There are a total of twenty-eight possibilities, from spouse to “collateral dependent” (What in the world is that?). That is information they want for everyone in the house: they want specifics, darn it! Oh, and if you have children who don’t live with you, you will have to know about the filing status of the people your child does live with. So if your ex remarried, or is living with someone else and the two of you don’t talk, you will now! (Ah… the federal government bringing families back together!)
Note on the application that they ask questions about the future. “Does [the applicant] plan to…” is asked for several items. Section XX is “Review and Sign” in which we’re told that the information is used for the next five years in determining eligibility and we find the following:
”I’m signing this application under penalty of perjury. This means I’ve provided true answers to all the questions on this form to the best of my knowledge. I know that if I’m not truthful, there may be a penalty.”
The problem with that “do you plan” question is that Title 18 of the US Code, Section 1001 makes it a federal crime to lie to the government:
· made the false statement without the obligations of an oath,
· didn’t receive warning of the law or its consequences,
· were not trying to cheat the government out of money,
· or lied about something that was not materially influential to government matters.”
So if you say that no, you didn’t plan to and then later changed your mind, or your circumstances changed and with them your plans, would that be considered a lie in their eyes? Could they cancel your healthcare insurance plan because your plans changed? Even if they don’t cancel your insurance plan, what else could they do? It’s something to think about, n’est-ce past.