Photo by: Pete Souza

Photo credit: Pete Souza

It’s getting difficult to take any part of Obamacare seriously.

The Obama administration has altered or delayed it so many times—who can be sure what the law is at this point?

The individual mandate stating that every American has to purchase government-approved health coverage or pay a fine is supposed to kick in on March 31. That’s the deadline to sign up for coverage, supposedly to avoid this year’s penalty.

But Obamacare is never “settled law,” as the president and others have called it, because Health and Human Services (HHS) keeps writing more regulations.

Most recently, the administration extended the “hardship exemption” from the individual mandate for those who had their previous policies canceled because of Obamacare until October 2016.

To qualify, your plan must have been canceled because it wasn’t compliant with Obamacare, and you just have to tell the government you “believe” that other insurance policies are unaffordable.

The exemption means people who meet these criteria are free from the individual mandate. But if they want to buy coverage, they are given the special option to buy a “catastrophic” health insurance plan, which is not eligible for subsidies and typically would be available only to those under age 30.

When the exemption was first announced in December, Heritage experts Alyene Senger and Robert Moffit said this “is not going to simplify anything. Rest assured it is going to create even greater confusion for health insurers trying to sell these products. Also, don’t expect the unhappy consumers who’ve just lost their previous coverage to understand clearly which plan they can pick and be legally qualified to pick it.”

Due to the utter confusion and the underperforming signups on, reporters asked HHS this week whether the agency would simply extend the deadline for people to buy coverage. An HHS official responded that, “In fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014.”

This administration hasn’t let a detail like legal authority stop it from overstepping its bounds multiple times. And as Heritage’s Senger and Moffit put it, “issuing more government rules to correct the consequences of their unworkable government rules is the only thing they seem to know how to do.”

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