Obamacare: Smokers May Get A Break

Due to a glitch with Obamacare, smokers may get a break. President Obama’s universal health care program includes penalties for smokers. However, a computer glitch may temporarily limit the penalty fees.

The health care plan is set to begin in 2014. As the start date nears, glitches and other issues have caused the delay of several provisions.

One of the largest provisions imposes fines on employers who fail to provide health coverage to employees. Last week it was announced that those fines will be delayed for one year, as officials review the complex provision.

Under another provision of Obamacare, smokers will be charged higher premiums based on age. As reported by CBS News, the computer program has failed to separate the categories. The glitch would charge smokers of all ages the same penalty.

If the current program is used, older smokers will will get a break on the penalty amount. However, younger smokers may pay more than anticipated.

The current penalties are up to 50 percent more than the premiums paid by non-smokers. Additionally, smokers are exempt from tax credits that will offset health care costs for non-smokers.

As it stands, the standard insurance plan will cost a 64-year-old non-smoker $9,000 per year. In contrast, a smoker will pay over $13,000 for the same policy.

It could take up to one year to resolve the glitch. Officials have not announced postponement of the penalties for smokers.

As reported by ABQ Journal, Robert Laszewski, a consultant with the health care industry, is concerned that glitches and confusion will continue to cause delays:

“This was an administration that was telling us everything was under control … Everything was going to be fine. Suddenly this kind of stuff is cropping up every few days.”

As officials continue to organize the details for the anticipated 2014 launch, other glitches are sure to surface. However, with Obamacare, smokers may get a temporary break.

[Image via Wikimedia]