As Healthcare.gov continues to malfunction and already 5 million people contend with canceled health insurance plans, reports are that the Administration will delay open enrollment in Obamacare in 2015.
That’s right. They are delaying 2015 enrollment, not 2014 enrollment, which is the immediate debacle harming Americans.
Citing concern for insurers and their ability to accurately price plans for 2015, the Administration is reported to be pushing back the start of the open enrollment period from October 1, 2014, to November 15, 2014. Not a one-month delay, but curiously, a one-month-and-15-day delay. This means, of course, that any second round of sticker shock on the prices for 2015 insurance plans will come after next year’s November elections.
Why would exchange prices for 2015 plans pose a concern? First, there is every reason to believe that people shopping in the exchanges next fall will be confronted with higher cost plans—even higher than the increases being seen now. That’s because current enrollment in the exchanges is drawing older people, as young adults discover they can’t afford the Cadillac plans mandated by Obamacare. The 2015 plans will be priced based on the experiences of the older than expected population.
What fall 2015 is likely to show is that, once again, instead of making health insurance more affordable, the Affordable Care Act continues to make coverage less affordable.
In addition, in 2015 the disruption will affect more people. The employer mandate, which the President delayed this year, will take effect in 2015 and requires companies employing 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance or face IRS penalties.
Like Home Depot, which has already announced that it will send 20,000 employees to the exchanges, the employer mandate is expected to drive more people to the exchanges. If this year’s cacophony from 5 million people reeling from cancelations and higher prices has flooded the news, it will be greatly magnified next year.
It seems strange that this year, the Administration, despite clear warnings of serious problems with Healthcare.gov, did not show the forethought to even consider delaying the launch of Obamacare. Now, without giving any real relief to this year’s problems, it is planning 12 months down the road and delaying enrollment for a mere 45 days, a span not likely to make much difference for the insurers on whose behalf they claim to be acting.
The American people deserve a health care system that works for them and draws from the ingenuity of the private market, not the incompetence and often politically infused decisions of the federal government.