adrian_turtle: (Default)
As many of you know, I live in Massachusetts, which has had a patchwork of nearly-universal health insurance coverage for several years now. We have religious exemptions to our health insurance requirements, but it's not nearly as infuriating as the type being discussed in national politics these days.

The Massachusetts plan tries to get as many people as possible into insurance plans, considering different reasons for doing without insurance:
1) health insurance plans won't sell to them
2) they have access, but can't afford the premiums
3) they have access and money, but want to save their money because they don't expect to need health care this year
4) they object to seeing doctors, on general principle

So there are rules for the health insurance plans to address problem 1, that they have to make their plans available to everybody, and can't raise the premiums too much. And rules for businesses, that they have to make group plans available to their employees. And subsidies to help low-income (and moderate-income) people with premiums. It's a reasonable attempt to address problem 2. In an attempt to get the 3rd group to pay premiums (whether they get insurance and health care or not), you're supposed to pay a tax penalty if you opt out of buying health insurance for reasons other than low income or religious conviction. The penalty money goes to support the subsidies.

The 4th group doesn't involve all that many people, but they're symbolically important. I don't know what religions have such strong objections to all medical care that the devout consider it wrong to have health insurance. (Maybe Christian Science?)

My Massachusetts tax form asks:
Are you claiming an exemption from the requirement to purchase health insurance based on your sincerely held religious beliefs?
If you are claiming a religious exemption in line 8a, did you receive medical health care during the 2011 tax year?


It was a religious exemption for individuals wanting to avoid buying health insurance. When did "religious exemption," in the context of health insurance, start to be about employers or insurers wanting to limit coverage? I feel like the jargon changed under my feet, and I didn't even notice it had changed until I sat down to do my taxes.

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adrian_turtle

March 2016

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