Saturday, November 23, 2013

White House Extends #ObamaCare Enrollment Deadline

Another delay for this fabulous legislation.

At WSJ, "Obama Administration to Push Back Health-Insurance Enrollment for 2015":

The Obama administration is planning to push back the period during which Americans sign up for coverage under the new health law in its second year of operation, a change that could reassure insurers while also avoiding the 2014 midterm elections.

The Department of Health and Human Services will allow Americans to start signing up for coverage starting Nov. 15, 2014, rather than Oct. 15, 2014, a department official said early Friday. People will have until Jan. 15, 2015, rather than Dec. 7, 2014, to complete the process, the official said.

The move is intended to give insurance issuers "the benefit of more time to evaluate their experiences during the 2014 plan year and allow them to take into account those who may enroll late, including young adults, before setting 2015 rates," the department said. The change also would give states and the federally run marketplace currently serving 36 states more time to get their systems ready for the next open enrollment period, it said.

The change applies to the new health-insurance exchanges created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. They offer coverage to those who can't obtain it from an employer or government program.

The decision was earlier reported by Bloomberg News. It doesn't affect the open enrollment period for this year, which began Oct. 1 with a rough start. Open enrollment this season continues through March 31, and some supporters have delayed plans for promotions until January.

Insurers typically prepare rates in the spring for plans that will take effect the following year. Dismal early enrollment numbers and other developments in the market have made insurers nervous about the kind of risk they will bear after the first enrollment period under the law is over. That could prompt them to err on the side of caution and propose higher premiums for 2015.

The delayed 2015 enrollment calendar now being proposed by the Obama administration would give the insurers more time before they had to pull the trigger on rate decisions.

Such a shift also would ensure that Democrats facing tough re-election races next fall don't have to campaign at the same time as open enrollment is taking place, although some premium information would be already available during the campaign.