New delay: Deadline for ObamaCare enrollment moved back from December 15th to 23rd
POSTED AT 3:21 PM ON NOVEMBER 22, 2013 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
They continue to insist that they’re on track for “major improvement” or whatever to the website by November 30th, but if it was as major as they’d hoped, they never would have resorted to this. A little heads up for our twentysomething readers: In case you haven’t decided yet what you’ll be buying with the cash you get for Christmas, good news — Obama and the insurance industry have decided for you.
Wait a sec. I thought the reason they set December 15th as the deadline for enrolling if you want your new coverage to start on New Year’s Day is because it takes insurers at least two weeks to process an application. If they’re now pushing the deadline back a week to give people more time to enroll, that leaves insurers with just eight days to turn applications around — assuming that the applicant info they receive from Healthcare.gov is readable in the first place. How are they going to do that? They’re … not sure:
Asked via email whether this change complicates matters for insurers, Robert Zirkelbach spokesman for the insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans, responded, “It makes it more challenging to process enrollments in time for coverage to begin on January 1. Ultimately it will depend on how many people enroll in those last few days. It is also important to keep in mind that consumers need to pay their first month’s premium before their coverage can begin.”
Did the White House even … consult with the industry about whether they can manage a new deadline of December 23rd? I ask because, according to several reports, Obama didn’t consult with them before announcing last week that he was going to let them un-cancel plans. Some of them, in fact, had spent the days leading up to his White House presser assuring people that there was no way, no how, no chance dead plans would or could be resurrected. I asked Philip Klein, who listened in on CMS’s conference call today, whether anyone brought that up. Ahem:
Oh well. They work for Obama now. Enjoy the new insurance regime you’ve helped create, guys.
If you missed it in Headlines earlier, here’s an AP report quoting tech experts as saying it’ll cost a lot of money to get Healthcare.gov to the point where it really needs to be in terms of handling users. How much money? It’s unclear because, amazing as it may seem, they still haven’t identified all the problems yet. Exit quotation via CMS honcho Henry Chao, in an e-mail to staffers four days before Healthcare.gov went live: “I DO NOT WANT A REPEAT OF WHAT HAPPENED NEAR THE END OF DECEMBER 2005 WHERE MEDICARE.GOV HAD A MELTDOWN.” Actually, it didn’t end up being a repeat; Medicare.gov was fixed relatively quickly. Success!
HHS delays 2015 enrollment to … just past the midterm elections
POSTED AT 10:01 AM ON NOVEMBER 22, 2013 BY ED MORRISSEY
Guess who’s worrying about the 2014 midterms? It’s not Republicans, but the White House. In a nonsense move, HHS has announced a one-month delay in 2015 open enrollments in the ObamaCare exchange, which will mean … nothing at all for the elections:
Health and Human Services plans to delay the start of the second year of Obamacare enrollment by one month to allow insurers more time to set rates after assessing their plan experiences during 2014, a department official said Thursday night.The decision means that sign-ups for the 2015 plan year would begin on Nov. 15, 2014 and end on Jan. 15, 2015 instead of the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 window previously announced. The date change, first reported by Bloomberg, also lengthens the enrollment period by a week. Doing so would give companies more opportunity to account for individuals, particularly young adults, who come in late during the plan’s first year, which has gotten off to a rocky start. The goal is premiums that more accurately reflect costs for those insured.The new calendar would move the start of the 2015 open enrollment season to shortly after the November midterm elections.
This is, of course, nonsense. Insurers will have plenty of time to calculate their rates for 2015 based on their experiences in the first half of 2014, as they have every year they have been in business. This is just a transparent attempt to push off major price increases created by an inability to convince younger consumers to buy comprehensive insurance they don’t need, which will force insurers to raise premiums sharply again in the next year to make up the costs of all the mandates imposed on them for 2014. Those costs and the participation rate for various demographics will be well known in time for an October enrollment.
However, this misses the real risk for the White House, which isn’t in the individual market in 2015.The people in that market will have been battered all year with higher premiums and ridiculous deductibles, and another round of escalation in both will only have a limited shock value. The risk is in the employer-provided group market, where costs will either skyrocket or employees will get kicked out of their coverage and forced into the individual market. Those decisions will come in the late summer or early fall, as businesses have to prepare 2015 budgets in those time frames. By the time the standard October 1 open enrollment date hits for those consumers, the enormous impact of ObamaCare will be well known — even if they can’t access price information in the individual exchanges. When tens of millions of Americans get handed huge price increases or get pushed out of their group coverage altogether at that point, the outrage and political meltdown will dwarf whatever pricing changes take place in the individual markets.
This is a desperation move in more ways than one, and yet another example of the ignorance of private-sector strategic processes in the Obama administration.