Americans are inveterate tinkerers — a trait commented on by observers from de Tocqueville to Winston Churchill.
That’s why it’s not surprising that the bureaucrats at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would want to keep tweaking Obamacare. Mind you, it’s not so much because they think they can perfect the law. Rather, they keep tweaking the law in order to keep the American people from brandishing pitchforks and coming to Washington to tar and feather them and ride them out of town on a rail.
Self-preservation can be a marvelous motivating factor.
The geniuses who brought us the dysfunctional website healthcare.gov are in a panic because just about every Obamacare policy is going up in price. So rather than having American citizens deal with such unpleasantness, our intrepid bureaucrats have hit upon a brilliant scheme: why not change the auto-renewal rules of Obamacare premiums by automatically shifting a consumer from a policy that went up in price over to a cheaper policy? Of course, the cheaper policy will have fewer benefits and a larger deductible. And some people may actually like the policy they have now.
But what does that matter to the jamokes at HHS? They know what’s best for you. Just ask them.
In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier.
From the attached fact sheet:
Under current rules, consumers who do not take action during the openenrollment window are re-enrolled in the same plan they were in the previous year, even if that plan experienced significant premium increases. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan.
(Fact sheet via Adrianna McIntyre; proposal first noted by Politico.)
States running their own exchanges could start doing this in 2016, and federal exchanges could start in 2017.
It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment, at least for those who pick that option. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year.
A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best.
Presumably the idea came up because, even though by some measures premiums aren’t rising by large amounts this year, premiums for many of the lowest cost and most popular plans from last year are rising quite a bit. And since HHS decided over the summer to institute auto-renewal, and since the majority of Obamacare enrollees are expected to take no action and thus stay in their current plans, the reality is that under the current system a lot of enrollees are likely to see large premium hikes, just because they didn’t shop around for a new plan.
Bless their nanny state hearts. The thoughtfulness of liberals is neverending, isn’t it? As we are constantly reminded by many on the left, Americans are just too stupid to realize what their best interests are, so why not make it easy on us and take decisions on our health insurance out of our hands and place the responsibility with our all-knowing betters in government?
I guess they think we’re too dumb to notice a 20% monthly increase in our premiums. Otherwise, I can’t think of a logical reason why CMS would want to make this tweak. Most of us would be upset to realize that a plan we were reasonably satisfied with was going up in price — something that the president promised wouldn’t happen. So, I guess one way to avoid that is to automatically switch a consumer to a lower-priced alternative.
There’s a reason the new policy is cheaper: fewer benefits and probably a higher deductible. If one way to define a loss of freedom under Obamacare is a narrowing of choices for Americans and their health insurance, then this latest tweak represents another effort to chip away at our personal liberty.