Obamacare descends into chaos

The deadline for signing up for Obamacare is December 15, if you need the insurance to kick in at the beginning of the year.  That’s less than a month away.  The website still doesn’t work, and the techs that are trying to fix it say they won’t get it done by the November 30 deadline.  Even if they do, that gives Americans without insurance just two weeks to sign up.  (There is a February 15 deadline for signing up without penalty, and an end-of-March deadline as the last chance to buy insurance on the exchanges.)  At last count, only 2% of those who need to have signed up so far.

If they can’t sign up, people whose independent policies have been cancelled will be left without insurance at the beginning of the year.  But President Obama’s decree that they should be able to keep their policies for a year is creating even more problems.

Insurance companies have already set their rates for next year, based on the assumption that those policies would be discontinued.  If those old policies are put back in place, that will throw off the quotes they have already been making.  This not only throws off insurance companies, it throws off the financial model Obamacare has been depending on.  Details after the jump.

From Lena H. Sun, Sarah Kliff and Sandhya Somashekhar, Obama’s health-law fix sends insurers, officials scrambling – The Washington Post:

State regulators across the country said they were blindsided by President Obama’s decision to change a key health-law provision and spent Friday scrambling to make sense of it. Some said they were unsure whether their state laws would allow them to do what the president suggested.

A day after Obama tried to quell anxiety over millions of canceled insurance policies, only a handful of state regulators said they would adopt the president’s fix. Many others said they needed more time to decide what to do because of the complex logistics and far-reaching impact on consumers.

The muddle marked the latest complication for Obama’s effort to salvage his signature health law. Since its passage in 2010, the law has met with strong political opposition, and the launch of the new federal insurance marketplace over the past six weeks has been plagued by technical problems.

The president tried to solve a separate issue — his broken promise that people who like their health plans can keep them — by allowing insurance companies to extend health plans that were supposed to be banned.

But the move is adding to the confusion that surrounds the health-care law and throwing an element of uncertainty into the insurance market.


From Obama grapples with resistance from states, insurers to his health-insurance fix – The Washington Post:

The American Academy of Actuaries was among the groups that immediately warned of negative effects if insurers were to keep offering those previous plans. The White House’s approach is “threatening the viability” of the new insurance marketplaces, said Corri Uccello, the academy’s senior health fellow.

Even if their mix of customers changes as a result of the new rules, insurers cannot change their prices for 2014, because the rates already have been set by each state’s insurance regulator. Senior administration officials said they could not predict what might happen to prices for 2015, when some old individual and small-business policies will still be in effect for much of the year.

State insurance commissioners and other health policy experts made clear that the landscape will vary substantially around the country.

Eight states, including California and New York, recently prohibited insurance companies from continuing to sell individual or small-group health plans unless they meet the new federal standards for coverage.

Notice:  The issue is not just whether or not we should have a national health care program.  The issue is that this particular program is poorly designed and cannot possibly work as planned.

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