This is the first tax season in which people across the country will have to provide the Internal Revenue Service with proof that they had health insurance for all or part of the previous year, and while most people will not experience any difficulties in doing so, many will still be affected by errors on their documentation. In fact, a large number of people nationwide have already noticed this kind of issue, and are trying to remediate them as soon as possible.
Specifically, this problem is going to affect Americans who bought coverage through state or federal exchanges, and about 800,000 people at the federal level alone are going to be impacted when the dust settles, according to a report from the Associated Press. Currently, the federal government is advising these people that they shouldn't attempt to file any tax documents until the errors - which contain incorrect information about what premiums these people paid, transposing their 2015 costs with what they actually paid for 2014 - are corrected.
Some consumers who were affected by this are also finding that the dates for which they had coverage are not always correct, the report said. This could be problematic because it could lead to fines being tacked onto their tax obligations for the year. Moreover, other problems may exist for people living in states that are running their own exchanges.
What caused the problem?
At a recent hearing about the issue, Kevin Counihan, the CEO of Healthcare.gov, said the issue arose because two pieces of code were incompatible with each other, the report said. This kind of technical problem has long plagued the health insurance exchange site, though those in the Obama administration say that the kinks are being smoothed out over time. That probably isn't much of a relief to the people already negatively impacted by the problem, but it could at least portend good news for future tax releases; the government has at least identified the problem and is working to fix it, albeit it too late for many.
When these issues arise, it might be a good idea for private health insurers to start doing a little bit more to market themselves as an alternative to the exchanges, as this could help them connect with consumers wary of going through similar problems again in the future.