Insurers have been told to pay out billions in back taxes to the US government
Insurers will be owed up to $2.6 trillion in back-taxes, according to a study from the US Insurance Information Institute.
The institute’s study, released Thursday, estimates that the average US insurance company is owed at least $1.2 trillion in taxes since 2008.
That figure includes refunds, refunds paid to consumers, penalties paid to insurers, and a refund to employers.
The US Treasury is expected to pay a total of about $1 trillion in refunds and penalties this year, the institute said.
Insurers will have to decide what to do with the money by March 31, the first day of the federal tax year.
If they don’t pay, the Treasury will be forced to pay the full amount, with the government having the option of using the money to offset future federal spending, the study said.
The Treasury is currently spending $1,082 billion to pay taxes, which are part of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.
That money is intended to help pay for health insurance coverage and prevent insurers from raising prices.
The US government also spends about $200 billion annually to finance Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans.
The $2 trillion estimate includes taxes on pharmaceuticals, alcohol and tobacco.
Insurers could have to pay as much as $1 billion to cover taxes for the drug companies.
But some of the $1 to $3 billion is due in a combination of fines and penalties for companies that don’t comply with Obamacare rules, the report said.
To make up the difference, insurers have been instructed to pay back taxes from Obamacare premiums and deductibles, the $2 to $4 billion in back tax owed to the Treasury and the federal excise tax on alcohol.
Insurance companies also owe the US Treasury about $5 billion for other government spending, including federal loans and grants.
A federal judge in California, however, is currently weighing a lawsuit filed by insurers and the Obama administration, alleging that the ACA has violated the US Constitution by mandating insurers to provide health coverage to their employees.