Articles on the implementation of ObamaCare.
Some Americans will be given several extra days to sign up for Obamacare insurance plans after the federal enrollment period officially ends Friday, amid long waits on the government’s enrollment phone line.
Pro-Obamacare lawmakers and activists are urging the Trump administration to allow a grace period for open enrollment so that people who have trouble using healthcare.gov are able to finish their applications.
The Trump administration has not said if it will allow a grace period, but an announcement about a final decision may not come until Friday.
During the 2015 and 2016 open enrollments, the Obama administration announced extensions on the same day as the deadline. The decision was made in 2015 to extend the deadline by two days because of “unprecedented demand,” and in 2016, the deadline was extended by four days as about 1 million people left their names at the call center to keep their place in line.
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Consumer advocates reported some glitches Monday in the final days for “Obamacare” sign-ups, although the Trump administration largely seemed to be keeping its promise of a smooth enrollment experience.
In Illinois, some consumers who successfully completed an application for financial assistance through HealthCare.gov got a message saying they would likely be eligible to buy a health plan, “but none are available to you in your area.”
That information was incorrect because every county in the nation currently has at least one health insurer offering plans under the Affordable Care Act for next year.
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Health insurance a la carte?
As the Affordable Care Act open-enrollment season moves into its final weeks, some consumers looking for lower-cost alternatives are considering a patchwork approach to health insurance. The products may secure some basic protection but leave patients on the hook for high medical bills.
The idea involves mixing and matching several types of insurance products originally designed to cover the deductibles and other gaps in traditional coverage.
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Cyndee Weston can barely remember the last time she didn’t have to switch health plans during an Affordable Care Act sign-up season. By her count, she has been on five plans in five years.
Every fall, after she has spent months figuring out her insurance plan’s deductibles, doctor networks, list of covered drugs and other fine print, she receives notice that the policy will be canceled as of Dec. 31. Because her job doesn’t come with insurance, “it’s agonizing going through all the plans and trying to compare,” said Weston, 55, who has diabetes and a history of melanoma. “Every year it’s the same scenario: ‘We’re not going to renew your policy.’”
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Maine made history earlier this month by becoming the first state to adopt Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion via ballot initiative. The vote could inspire progressive activists in other states to push for similar referenda.
Expanding Medicaid to cover childless, able-bodied adults would blow a hole in state budgets while yielding few, if any, public health gains. That’s because Medicaid provides such low-quality care that its beneficiaries often experience worse health outcomes than people with no health insurance.
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Nearly 2.8 million people signed up for ObamaCare plans during the first 25 days of open enrollment, but the rate of sign-ups has slowed, the Trump administration announced.
The fourth week resulted in just over 504,000 people selecting plans, compared with just under 800,000 people during the third week.
That number was also down from the 876,788 who signed up during week two, and the 601,462 who signed up during the first week of open enrollment.
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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) set substantial new federal requirements for health insurance plans and the insurers that provide them. These requirements significantly altered the way insurance is regulated, which was traditionally left to the states. The ACA included in Section 1332 the option for states to apply for a waiver from many of these regulations. However, the myriad stipulations tied to these 1332 State Innovation Waivers limit states’ ability to regain control of their own insurance regulations. Further, states have no guarantee they will be granted a waiver, even if they meet all of the ACA’s requirements for obtaining one.
In response to these issues, two Senate committees have introduced (or at least drafted) legislation that would solve many of the problems that states have had obtaining 1332 waivers. In addition to easing some standards and shortening timeframes for decisions, the bills also provide a standard path for states to gain these waivers in certain circumstances.
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A headline this week in The Hill shocked me: “ObamaCare enrollment strong in third week of sign-ups.” The Hill is a serious, well-respected, non-partisan news source. But any reader taking this headline at face value would be seriously misled about what is really going on with Obamacare enrollments during this fifth open enrollment season.
The Hill’s reporter correctly notes that “the pace of sign-ups has exceeded last year: In the first 26 days of last year’s open enrollment period, 2.1 million people signed up compared to the 2.3 million people who signed up the first 18 days of this year’s period.”
Those figures imply that the daily rate of sign-ups this year is outpacing last year’s rate by 58% [originally reported as 28%: Update #2]. Surely that is evidence of strong enrollment, no?
The reason it is not is buried at the tail-end of the story where the reporter notes “the enrollment period ends Dec. 15, which is about half as much time as people had to sign up last year.”
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As Republicans and the Trump administration continue trying to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, the Internal Revenue Service has begun, for the first time, to enforce one of the law’s most polarizing provisions: the employer mandate.
Thousands of businesses — many of them small or midsize — will soon receive a letter saying that they owe the government money because they failed to offer their workers qualifying health insurance. The first round of notices, which the I.R.S. began sending late last month, are being mailed to companies that have at least 100 full-time employees and ran afoul of the law in 2015, the year that the mandate took effect.
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