Saturday, December 21, 2013
If you had your insurance cancelled because of ObamaCare, you won't be fined in 2014 of you don't have insurance.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced, in the form of a letter to Democratic senators, that Obamacare’s individual mandate tax will be waived in 2014 for persons who had their policies canceled in 2013 due to Obamacare.
|Obama heading out of town|
But by conceding that the individual mandate can and should be delayed for one group, the administration has opened a major can of worms. For starters, this exemption is going to strike many Americans as blatantly unfair and arbitrary. It comes at the 11th hour, after millions of people, including those with canceled plans, have already made their choices based on the rules they thought would be in effect. The administration said for months that the mandate would not be waived for anyone, even those with canceled policies, and it vowed a veto of any delay legislation coming out of Congress. Now the rules have been changed, and some families who have committed to pay thousands of dollars in insurance premiums will feel very personally betrayed by an untrustworthy administration.
This exemption also further undermines the Obamacare exchanges, which are already teetering. The administration claims that there are only 500,000 people with canceled policies who haven’t signed up for new coverage yet. But this is an unverified number put out by the administration for damage control. Insurance industry insiders believe that, come January 1, most carriers will be looking at lower net enrollment in their plans compared to the previous year, meaning that cancellations will exceed new Obamacare enrollment in private plans. So the number of people with previous coverage who haven’t signed up with new coverage could easily be twice or three times the administration’s estimate.
In addition, what’s to stop those with canceled policies who fought their way through healthcare.gov from now changing their mind and dropping their plans in light of the administration’s announcement? These families would need only to file a form indicating that the premiums they were facing in the exchanges are unaffordable. As matters stand, the administration would have no basis for denying an exemption to such households.
From the Wall Street Journal: Obama Repeals ObamaCare
It seems Nancy Pelosi was wrong when she said "we have to pass" ObamaCare to "find out what's in it." No one may ever know because the White House keeps treating the Affordable Care Act's text as a mere suggestion subject to day-to-day revision. Its latest political retrofit is the most brazen: President Obama is partly suspending the individual mandate.It turns out that ObamaCare is itself one of those disasters like a tornado, flood or financial crisis that allow you to escape the penalty.
The White House argued at the Supreme Court that the insurance-purchase mandate was not only constitutional but essential to the law's success, while refusing Republican demands to delay or repeal it. But late on Thursday, with only four days to go before the December enrollment deadline, the Health and Human Services Department decreed that millions of Americans are suddenly exempt.
Individuals whose health plans were canceled will now automatically qualify for a "hardship exemption" from the mandate. If they can't or don't sign up for a new plan, they don't have to pay the tax. They can also get a special category of ObamaCare insurance designed for people under age 30.
A tornado destroys the neighborhood or ObamaCare blows up the individual insurance market, what's the difference?
The HHS ruling is that ObamaCare is precisely such a "significant, unexpected increase." In other words, it is an admission that rate shock is real and the mandates drive up costs well into hardship territory. HHS is agreeing with the Senators that exemptions should cover "an individual whose 2013 plan was canceled and considers their new premium unaffordable." In her reply letter, Mrs. Sebelius also observes that some people "are having difficulty finding an acceptable replacement." She means the new plans are overpriced.
The under-30 ObamaCare category that is being opened to everyone is called "catastrophic" coverage. These plans are still more expensive than those sold on the former market but they're about 20% cheaper on average than normal exchange plans because fewer mandates apply and they're priced for a healthier, younger risk pool. Liberal Democrats hated making even this concession when they wrote the law, so people who pick catastrophic plans don't get subsidies.
What an incredible political turnabout. Mr. Obama and HHS used to insist that the new plans are better and less expensive after subsidies than the old "substandard" insurance. Now they're conceding that at least some people should be free to choose less costly plans if they prefer—or no plan—and ObamaCare's all-you-can-eat benefits rules aren't necessary for quality health coverage after all.
But the White House is shredding ObamaCare's economics on its own terms. Premiums for catastrophic products are based on the assumption that enrollees would be under 30. A 55-year-old will now get a steep discount on care courtesy of the insurer's balance sheet, while other risk-tiers on the exchanges will have even fewer customers to make the actuarial math work.
Pulling the thread of the individual mandate also means that the whole scheme could unravel. Waiving ObamaCare rules for some citizens and continuing to squeeze the individual economic liberties of others by forcing them to buy what the White House now concedes is an unaffordable product is untenable. Mr. Obama is inviting a blanket hardship amnesty for everyone, which is what Republicans should demand.
Jusr a few weeks ago Republicans like Ted Cruz were telling us that ObamaCare was a fiasco and demanding a repeal or at least a delay ... and they were called terrorist and suicide bombers. Today ObamaCare is being dismantled piece by piece because it's unworkable and it's being done by the people who demonized the Republicans who stood up and told the truth.
The Wall Street Journal again:
Republicans ought to prepare for that eventuality with insurance reforms beyond the "repeal" slogan, but they can also take some vindication in Thursday's reversal. Mr. Obama's actions are as damning about ObamaCare as anything Senator Ted Cruz has said, and they implicitly confirm that the law is quarter-baked and harmful. Mr. Obama is doing through executive fiat what Republicans shut down the government to get him to do.