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Rick Moran


November 16, 2013 - 7:34 am
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Amid rising calls for gutting or repealing Obamacare outright, there is the growing realization that all the “fixes” in the world won’t get most people’s cancelled insurance policies back, won’t put their doctors back on the “approved” list, and won’t alter the premiums for Americans who have seen their insurance costs skyrocket.

Simply put, it’s too late.

For many months, insurance companies worked with state regulators to develop policies and costs in line with provisions in the Affordable Care Act. This is a laborious process that got a late start anyway because the regulations governing coverages for Obamacare policies were delayed for political reasons — the 2012 election. Insurance companies were forced to scramble in order to meet the October 1 deadline.

Now the companies are being told that all that work was for naught — that they must undo what took them so long to develop and revisit policies that have already been cancelled. Their problems are compounded by the actuarial nightmare that all their careful planning with regard to premium costs are likely to go up in smoke as the risk pool on the exchanges will be heavily skewed toward older, sicker participants — consumers who won’t have to pay more than healthy patients no matter how much they use the health care system.

Some states will apparently try to accommodate consumers and allow insurance companies the option of offering the same coverages and price of policies that were cancelled. But it is more likely that most insurance regualtors will not allow the change because of the chaos that will result from Obama’s “fix.”

USA Today reports:

The insurance industry is none too pleased that the onus is now on them to satisfy consumers who are outraged about their policies being canceled. Insurers and insurance commissioners don’t have to let people extend their plans, but “it will no longer be implementation of the law that is forcing them to buy a new plan,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

The head of the insurance industry’s trade group says extensions could lead to higher premiums, just the effect Obama’s announcement was intended to prevent.

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” Karen Ignagni, CEO of American’s Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement.

And Washington state’s insurance commissioner came out quickly declaring he won’t allow insurance companies to extend policies.

“In the interest of keeping the consumer protections we have enacted and ensuring that we keep health insurance costs down for all consumers, we are staying the course,” Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a statement.

One thing’s for sure: No one really knows how this will play out.

“It is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed today by the president can be put into effect,” National Association of Insurance Commissioners President Jim Donelon said in a statement.

In Illinois, insurance broker Allen Wishner says the carriers have been meeting with the state insurance commissioner since the president’s recent apology for the canceled policies. That led brokers to think an extension was in the works.

Few of Wishner’s clients with canceled policies had chosen new plans yet. He’s still waiting for all the regulatory guidance he needs from the state before he switches anyone’s policy back to a pre-ACA policy and says he’ll be on a conference call Friday morning with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

If he’s allowed to offer extensions, Wishner says he will tell clients that “if you want what you had, knowing it’s shortcomings, that’s your individual right to do that.” Obama said insurers would be required to tell consumers that there are other options on the new exchanges for them.

Aetna said it supports efforts to let people keep their plans, but urged state regulators to allow it to update the company’s policies and get rate approval so it can get its plans “back on the market,” said spokesman Matthew Wiggin. Aetna, like AHIP, says the administration has to take action to stabilize the market to keep the move from backfiring and hurting consumers.

If the “fix” is simply going to cause more confusion and lead to chaos in the market, why on earth would the president order it?

Yuval Levin writes:

It is very hard to know how many people will actually be keeping their 2013 plans as a result of this new policy, and of course it is also still possible that Congress will pass legislation. But by allowing insurers to keep current customers in pre-Obamacare plans outside the exchanges, and by letting the insurers choose which plans to keep, the administration makes it more likely that the exchanges will not be able to achieve the volume and the risk-balance necessary for them to function. The White House understands that, of course, and the decision to take this step suggests that they think the risk is worth it not just because the immediate political danger is so great but also because the chances of the exchanges actually functioning anyway seem lower and lower all the time.

That, to my mind, is what Thursday’s announcement really signals, and why I think it’s so significant. Prior instances of reckless presidential expediency in the debate over Obamacare have involved efforts to get past some immediate obstacle and just get the system into place, in the hope that once it was working the criticisms would fade away. This latest instance, however, involves roughly the opposite impulse: to sacrifice the prospects of the new system itself in the service of avoiding immediate political pain and embarrassment and without some larger goal in view.

It suggests that the administration is giving up on the long game of doing what it takes to get the system into place and then trusting that the public will come around and is adopting instead the mentality of a political war of attrition, fought news cycle by news cycle, in which the goal is to survive and gain some momentary advantage rather than to achieve a large and well-defined objective. It suggests, in other words, that the administration is coming to the view that Obamacare as they have envisioned it is not really going to happen, that they don’t know quite what is going to happen (and no one else does either), and that they need above all to keep their coalition together and keep the public from abandoning them so they can regroup when the dust clears.

A deeply cynical move by the president done largely to shift blame for the incompetence of the rollout may end up destroying Obamacare before it even leaves the paddock. Obama has been reduced to a completely reactive posture where he is putting out political fires in the short term while trusting to chance that the effects of his shortsightedness won’t completely undo his pet program.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
At the risk of nitpicking, I don't think ANYBODY knows how Obamacare works. I spent three hours Thursday on a phone conference with two lawyers, an accountant, and my CEO trying to interpret a specific Ohio health care statute (unrelated to Obamacare). NO ONE could tell me what the statutory language in question means, although it is 100 percent critical to the operation of my business. You could have cut my frustration with a dull scalpel, but no matter - I have to proceed (or simply close up shop) with opinions ranging from "completely permissible under the statute" to "fourth or fifth degree felony."

ABSOLUTELY NO ONE, including you, Rick, knows, understands, or possibly COULD know "how Obamacare works." The damage to the economic machinery of health care nationwide cannot be calculated, and we're just beginning.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
When you pass a law in reconciliation, in the middle of the night, behind closed doors, that nobody can't address all the pitfalls ahead of time. So, you intentionally and maliciously legislate chaos.

When you go to the Supreme Court and you say it's a tax, while lying to the people that it is intentionally and maliciously subvert the system even further.

When you strangle off debate, have your propaganda machine cover up the ugly tyranny and it's inevitable results, you intentionally and maliciously keep the voting public from their right to self-governance.

Now, we reap what has been sewn by The Party, The State and The Media. Which we have allowed to become one thing. And THAT is the most dangerous thing of all. Because THAT was intentional and maliciously...THE PLAN all along.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well it looks like the prez has really stepped in it big time! Did anyone never tell him you can't un-break a pane of glass?

A working website isn't going to fix this socialistic nightmare.

36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (34)
All Comments   (34)
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my classmate's aunt makes $62/hr on the computer. She has been unemployed for 10 months but last month her pay was $21044 just working on the computer for a few hours. go to this site.......
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
what Mark answered I'm shocked that a person able to get paid $4005 in 4 weeks on the computer. more info here----> W­­W­W.F­­b­­3­9.C­­0­­M
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Worse (or better) is to come. People are not and will not go to the websites and sign up. They just won't. More over far far too many just won't buy the new policies. They just won't.

The Website is a haven for identity theft and everyone know this. The government can't keep track of jack anyway. And that fact has just gotten serious.

Obamacare in its roll out phase has too many negatives and those negatives have already passed a tipping point.

Lets be really really brutally frank. The political parties have failed us. The political pundits haven't helped much either - not that we are a bargain.

The sleazebags in Congress are going to have to repeal this law, and they will. And here is the reason. These negatives that have reached a tipping point aren't going away and will not be made better. Even if insurance companies though their long suffering travails manage to pull a miracle out of the hat and reset insurance policies to before ACA, nevertheless, as Obamacare unfolds from that point far worse negatives will be brought down on us because of the rationing authorities and scenarios Obamacare contains.

Believe me, it may take a year or so but this law will be repealed. The hard way to be sure.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
my classmate's ex-wife makes $79/hour on the computer. She has been fired from work for six months but last month her income was $12765 just working on the computer for a few hours. find out this here
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
my co-worker's mom makes $77 hourly on the laptop. She has been fired from work for 7 months but last month her pay check was $15344 just working on the laptop for a few hours. his explanation>>>>>>>>>>>
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The writer nails it with one trenchant phrase-Obama's Pet Project. Think of it. All the wasted time, all the wasted money, the country in turmoil, our health care sector in tatters. And for what? A completely unworkable law that every body knows by now will have to be completely scrapped. Obama's Pet Project. How did we sink this far, this fast?
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Has anyone thought to ask Vladimir Putin to lend a helping hand?
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have total confidence in Obama.
Confidence that his complete lack of real world experience at running anything and his proven incompetence at trying to do so will prevail throughout this fiasco.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The website doesn't matter that much. If it started working flawlessly tomorrow, it would just mean that the public would get a quicker look at what will be a deeply unpopular set of choices. The only people who got a good deal were the ones formerly with nothing who got extended into Medicaid. Even those poor enough to get completely subsidized on premiums will discover that they are required to pay deductibles they can't possibly cough up before they see a dime of benefit. And most of us won't see those subsidies on our newly higher premiums but will also see higher deductibles and stingier provider networks because that's what it takes to a) pay out all that new Medicaid, and b) cover the transactional costs of kicking the whole system apart and trying to build a new one out of the jagged pieces. The sooner people see the costs, the sooner the big blowback. Bigger than anyone realizes, even yet.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
They aren't happy about the website, but they view it as a speeedbump.

The thug politiburo isn't spending any time at all figgering how to flip the bits, They're spening all their time figgering how many new shiny things it will take to keep themselves on their thrones, and how many shivs it will take in the backs of former "friends and allies" to keep the jewels in their crowns.

They'll let the Republiodits concentrate on the gloating. They'll concentrate on upping the redistribution.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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