Health Advice



When rogue brokers switch people's ACA policies, tax surprises can follow

Julie Appleby, KFF Health News, KFF Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

Tax season is never fun. But some tax filers this year face an added complication: Their returns are being rejected because they failed to provide information about Affordable Care Act coverage they didn’t even know they had.

While the concern about unscrupulous brokers enrolling unsuspecting people in ACA coverage has simmered for years, complaints have risen in recent months as consumers discover their health insurance coverage isn’t what they thought it was.

Now such unauthorized enrollments are also causing tax headaches. Returns are getting rejected by the IRS and some people will have to pay more in taxes.

“It’s definitely gotten worse over the past year. We’ve helped three to four dozen people this year already,” said Erin Kinard, director of systems and intake for the Health and Economic Opportunity Program at Pisgah Legal Services in North Carolina, which helps low-income families enroll in ACA plans and get tax help.

Neither the IRS nor the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the federal Obamacare marketplace, responded to questions about the problem.

The IRS did, however, issue an FAQ in February instructing consumers on what to do if their electronically filed returns are rejected because of ACA issues.


Unauthorized sign-ups can happen in several ways, Kinard and others said. Some rogue agents troll online enrollment portals that are accessible only to brokers but are integrated with the website. When those agents open a new policy or switch an already enrolled policyholder to a different plan, they garner the associated monthly commissions. Other consumers unwittingly sign up when they respond to advertisements touting gift cards or government subsidies then are transferred to agents who enroll them in health coverage. It’s happening even after new rules were put in place requiring agents to get written or recorded consent from clients before making changes.

CMS has not released details on how many consumers have been affected or how many agents have been sanctioned for participating in such schemes.

There’s also no public tally of how many taxpayers are facing problems as a result. And the tax consequences can come as a surprise.

“Many people are finding out when they go to e-file their taxes and it bounces back and the IRS says it can’t accept your return,” said Christine Speidel, an associate professor and the director of the Federal Tax Clinic at Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law.


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©2024 KFF Health News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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