Author Topic: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out  (Read 988 times)

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Online mystery-ak

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Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« on: November 02, 2013, 08:46:06 PM »
http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/why-delaying-obamacare-has-insurers-freaking-out-20131031

Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
The individual mandate and enrollment periods need to work as planned or consumers could face rate shock.


By Sam Baker
October 31, 2013

The health insurance industry already had plenty to freak out about with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Simply complying with the law is a massive undertaking, never mind the terrible HealthCare.gov debut. But the botched rollout has produced a new source of anxiety for insurers: the growing bipartisan support for delaying parts of the act’s implementation.

Republicans have wanted to delay the law’s individual insurance mandate for years. They’ve voted on it in the House, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is keeping the idea alive in the upper chamber. Delaying the mandate would be terrible news for insurance companies, but so far they haven’t had to take a strong position on most of the GOP’s proposals. They have been counting on political gridlock to take care of the issue: A delay wouldn’t happen, so insurers didn’t have to break with their anti-Obamacare allies or publicly side with pro-Obamacare Democrats on the issue.

That tone is changing, though, in the wake of HealthCare.gov’s woes. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is working on a bipartisan bill to delay the individual mandate for a year, a move that has set off alarms inside the industry. “The individual mandate is inextricably linked to the insurance-market reforms included in the health care reform law,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s leading trade organization.

The health care law essentially strikes a deal with insurance companies: They are required to cover people with preexisting conditions, and they can’t charge people more based on those conditions. Both of those policies will cost insurers money—potentially, a lot of it. So the law also includes three tools to minimize their financial risks: the individual mandate; subsidies to help people afford insurance; and a defined window to buy coverage.

If lawmakers start fiddling with those incentives, the equation gets worse for insurers. There are minor changes that the industry could probably weather, maybe easily. But just the idea of weakening those safeguards is enough to make insurers nervous. A handful of states tried in the 1990s to enforce guaranteed coverage, but without the safeguards that Obamacare includes for insurers. Premiums in those states skyrocketed, growing by double digits each year until they were so expensive that the reforms ended up increasing the number of uninsured people.

Democrats protective of the Affordable Care Act have held the line so far on changes to its important provisions. The individual mandate might not be politically popular, but Obamacare won’t work without it, so the party was stuck with it. That put Democrats and insurers on the same team.

This unenthusiastic alliance is starting to weaken now because of the website’s shortfalls. The site’s myriad technical problems have made it supremely difficult for anyone to shop for coverage, much less enroll in a plan. Some Democrats see those failings as a burden on consumers and argue that it’s only fair to give people a break from the law’s other requirements.

A delay in the individual mandate remains unlikely, even though it’s getting fresh attention on Capitol Hill. But insurers are also worried about another proposal that’s attracting Democratic support beyond the moderate, perennially vulnerable Joe Manchins of the world.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is leading a push to extend the open enrollment period—the six-month window during which consumers are able to buy coverage through the law’s new insurance marketplaces. The window opened Oct. 1 and runs to March 31.

Yet if enrollment wasn’t available for one or two of those six months, Shaheen argues, Washington should add another month or two on the end, to give people the full window.

“Extending this period will give consumers critical time in which to become familiar with the website and choose a plan that is best for them,” Shaheen wrote in a recent letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Individuals should not be penalized for lack of coverage if they are unable to purchase health insurance due to technical problems.”

Although it sounds like a minor adjustment, the fact that there’s a defined open-enrollment period is a big deal for insurance companies. Extending the window would be “destabilizing” for insurers, Zirkelbach said.

Their primary goal is to cover as many people as possible who won’t file big claims. It’s the defined enrollment window, not the individual mandate, that prevents people from waiting to sign up for insurance until they’re on their way to the emergency room. So extending the window could make it easier for young, healthy people to go without insurance until they absolutely need it. “If these vital enrollment incentives were to change, the premiums health plans filed for next year would have to increase,” Zirkelbach said.

Whether Congress or the administration will actually try to weaken the mandate or extend the enrollment window depends largely on whether and when HealthCare.gov is fixed. If HHS meets its end-of-November deadline, everything can probably continue as scheduled.

“Unless there is far more disaster than the administration is admitting right now, it would be a really bad idea to delay and cause more problems for insurers nervous already about what kind of risk pool they’re drawing from,” said Tim Jost, a Washington and Lee University law professor and a supporter of the Affordable Care Act.

But if people still can’t sign up for coverage as we get closer to Dec. 15—the deadline to buy a plan that takes effect at the beginning of the year—the calls for delays will get a lot louder.

“I don’t see what other choice the admin would have,” said Dan Schuyler, who tracks the health law’s exchanges for the consulting firm Leavitt Partners. If not enough young people enroll, he said, “I don’t think there’s any other alternative but to extend open enrollment another 30 or 60 days.”



« Last Edit: November 02, 2013, 08:47:37 PM by mystery-ak »

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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2013, 11:27:18 PM »
The Democrats have so totally screwed this thing up it's unfathomable anyone could be this freaking stupid.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline happyg

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2013, 11:34:13 PM »
The Democrats have so totally screwed this thing up it's unfathomable anyone could be this freaking stupid.

Someone just tweeted that 4 million people had their policies cancelled. Those insurance companies aren't making money without policy holders. What a mess!

Offline EC

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2013, 11:42:22 PM »
Sorry, mountaineer and Rap - you knew I were going to poke you on this.  :smokin:

Seriously - why don't you just go single payer? After all, it works so well for us!

That was sarcasm - but I have to admit. Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (in her 70s) and she was in hospital and operated on before I could make all of the 2 hour drive up to see her. Got there and she was already in recovery. 5 years later, she is still cancer free. She did have to wait 3 years for her cataracts to be removed though - it's a bit of a crap shoot, really. A bit like her driving before she had the cataracts removed.

Dad, on the other hand - same hospital, same referring doctor, same surgical team (different lead surgeon) - he's been in 4 times for his vocal chords. They keep screwing things up. He'll be screaming down the phone at me and I hear a whisper. It got bad enough at one stage that I gave him a throat mike and amplifier (don't ask) so he could talk to the neighbors and make conversation at the dinner table.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2013, 11:45:22 PM »
Sorry, mountaineer and Rap - you knew I were going to poke you on this.  :smokin:

Seriously - why don't you just go single payer? After all, it works so well for us!

That was sarcasm - but I have to admit. Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (in her 70s) and she was in hospital and operated on before I could make all of the 2 hour drive up to see her. Got there and she was already in recovery. 5 years later, she is still cancer free. She did have to wait 3 years for her cataracts to be removed though - it's a bit of a crap shoot, really. A bit like her driving before she had the cataracts removed.

Dad, on the other hand - same hospital, same referring doctor, same surgical team (different lead surgeon) - he's been in 4 times for his vocal chords. They keep screwing things up. He'll be screaming down the phone at me and I hear a whisper. It got bad enough at one stage that I gave him a throat mike and amplifier (don't ask) so he could talk to the neighbors and make conversation at the dinner table.

With all due respect, I'm in no mood to discuss single payer. I'm glad you like it in the UK and they like it in Canada (or so xfreeper claims) but it is a terrible idea and it is not the solution, it will only lead to inferior health care in the USA.  I read the stories out of the UK and it what I read is a disaster compared to what we have enjoyed in the USA.

And.. you may enjoy paying outrageous taxes in the UK to provide social services for the population.. but this is the USA...... and I do not enjoy working my ass off to pay for people who prefer to sit home, collect food stamps welfare and free healthcare on my back.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2013, 11:47:25 PM by Rapunzel »
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Offline happyg

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2013, 11:48:58 PM »
With all due respect, I'm in no mood to discuss single payer. I'm glad you like it in the UK and they like it in Canada (or so xfreeper claims) but it is a terrible idea and it is not the solution, it will only lead to inferior health care in the USA.  I read the stories out of the UK and it what I read is a disaster compared to what we have enjoyed in the USA.

And.. you may enjoy paying outrageous taxes in the UK to provide social services for the population.. but this is the USA...... and I do not enjoy working my ass off to pay for people who prefer to sit home, collect food stamps welfare and free healthcare on my back.

 :amen:

Offline EC

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2013, 11:51:27 PM »
With all due respect, I'm in no mood to discuss single payer. I'm glad you like it in the UK and they like it in Canada (or so xfreeper claims) but it is a terrible idea and it is not the solution, it will only lead to inferior health care in the USA.  I read the stories out of the UK and it what I read is a disaster compared to what we have enjoyed in the USA.

Accepted. Promise - no teasing about this for one month from the time of this post.

What grinds me about Obamacare is it takes the worst of both worlds. Single payer, with all the inefficiency and waste that implies ($4000 toilet seats, anyone?). Then it adds a profit driven layer on top of it. How ANYONE could think it would be affordable is beyond me.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2013, 11:55:01 PM »
The government has absolutely no business meddling in healthcare, education, and much, much more... someone needs to read the damned Constitution/
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline EC

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2013, 11:56:36 PM »
Borders and currency is about it - I'll accept weights and measures also.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2013, 11:56:58 PM by EC »
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Offline Oceander

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2013, 12:50:23 AM »
The government has absolutely no business meddling in healthcare, education, and much, much more... someone needs to read the damned Constitution/

Unfortunately, the Constitution gives the federal government very wide latitude to meddle in those areas, either directly - as in meddling in health care via the Commerce Clause - or indirectly - as in meddling in education via the power of the purse.

Offline Oceander

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2013, 12:50:40 AM »
Borders and currency is about it - I'll accept weights and measures also.

And private property rights.

Offline EC

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2013, 01:18:26 AM »
And private property rights.

Nope. You are giving them the right to determine your property.

Screw that. If it is yours, you hold it.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Why Delaying Obamacare Has Insurers Freaking Out
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2013, 01:52:10 AM »
Unfortunately, the Constitution gives the federal government very wide latitude to meddle in those areas, either directly - as in meddling in health care via the Commerce Clause - or indirectly - as in meddling in education via the power of the purse.



SCOTUS took away the Commerce Clause as a basis for upholding Obamacare - they rewrote it to make it a tax law.   In fact  thanks to King Roberts it is now a tax. If it had originally been presented as such Obamacare wouldn't have gotten to first base. 

Roberts took away the use of the commerce clause, which was the vehicle this terrible law was using, he took away the Federal Governments use of blackmail and financial threats towards States, which is a form of enforcement (which is why states did not "have" to go on the exchanges or expand Medicaid unless they chose to do so - per the ruling).  He told the American people, who overwhelmingly didn't like or want this law that it is up to us, the voters to be more careful who we choose who represents us and also informed us overturning of this law was in our hands.  Something Ted Cruz actually tried to fight for to the end. 

What is even more egregious (to me) is since this is a tax, all the Obama-Waivers.  The President has, for all intents and purposes, been writing or re-writing tax law.  Since all tax laws are "supposed" to start in the congress.  Incidentally, since Obamacare is a tax and this tax did not originate in congress (the bill originated in the Senate), should have been enough to invalidate the law.

The bottom line is  Chief Justice Roberts gutted the expansion of Commerce Clause power under the fig leaf of a majority ruling upholding the mandate under Congress’s taxing power and in the process he allowed the   monumental takeover of the most private aspects of our lives - our health care - and along with it the takeover of a substantial portion of our economy and empowered the federal government to write tens of thousands of pages of regulations telling us how to live and how to die.


Regarding the government and what it has the right to foist on us......

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/06/11/mark-levin-the-constitutions-2/2

Mark Levin who in addition to being a lawyer, serving as president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, and serving in the Reagan Administration as chief of staff to the Attorney General of the United States is a life-long student of the Constitution, its philosophical underpinnings and the debates that led up to the founding document’s writing and ratification has undercut any arguments that this law is constitutional  (which is why King Roberts had to re-write it from the bench.) had this to say in a recent interview (BTW Levin's legal foundation, Landmark Legal, submitted briefs on ObamaCare which helped persuade an Appeals Court to strike it down)

Said Levin:
Quote

    Many of these people are new to conservatism, relatively — do they even understand that?….Look at the Constitution. Did the Framers in Philadelphia at the Constitutional Convention, did the Framers, the state delegates in the state capitals debating whether to ratify the Constitution…did they trust big government?….The Founding Fathers did not trust big government. One of the main reasons that the Constitution was developed as it was and one of the main reasons the States agreed to confer authority on this new federal government while retaining most of their authority by the way ….was to promote and secure liberty, private property rights, trade, commerce, a stable law, a transparent law, equal justice under the law and yes to secure the nation from foreign threats…but then they made certain that not only would they divide power within the federal government , not only would they enumerate powers, specific powers to certain branches of the federal government…they would make it damn clear that the people under the Ninth Amendment, and the states under the Tenth Amendment, that their sovereignty would be preserved and all the other amendments in the Bill of Rights are intended to insure that the individual is protected…Otherwise the Constitution would not have been ratified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by the Commonwealth of Virginia by the State of New York. Three of the big states that objected most and were concerned most about the centralization of power in the federal government. This is our history.


snip...

Quote
I hear conservatives, people who claim to be conservatives, they’re not really conservatives and no I’m not putting out a litmus test but this is basic stuff …who seem to think that we need to accept the New Deal and everything that’s come since and ignore the Constitution. That is ignore everything that came before the New Deal. We just have to accept this fate. A massive bloated government, trust it, embrace it, live off it…I say hell no. No we’re not.


snip...

Quote
This is a big deal….I believe in the Constitution and I believe in unalienable rights…This is what the whole Founding was about. Where does this end…how many more rights will be obliterated?






“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776


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