About that inflexible March 31 Obamacare enrollment deadline… never mind.
Consumers can reportedly sign up for Obamacare until mid-April under yet another unilateral extension of the law, even though US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress earlier this month (see embed below) that there would be no further delays.
A government spokesperson added that “We have no plans to extend the open enrollment period. In fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014.”
Obamacare has fallen far short of the Obama administration’s enrollment projections, and this development serves as an apparent delay in the never-to-be-delayed individual mandate.
This latest extension applies to those who consumers who “have begun to apply” for Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act. “Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth. The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House officials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was firm.”
In 2014, the Obamacare penalty tax (for those who don’t sign up for government-approved health insurance) is $95 per person or one percent of income. Next year, it rises to $325 or two percent, and in 2016 it jumps to $695 or 2.5 percent.
Ironically, when US Sen. Ted Cruz tried to delay or defund Obamacare, he was treated as public enemy No. 1 by the media and Democrats and even some Republicans because Obamacare was the law of the land.
Yet the American people have probably lost track of the waivers, exemptions, delays and postponements that the Obama administration itself has imposed on the implementation of the law without Congressional approval. “This latest delay is functionally an extension of the open enrollment period for the ACA and a delay in the individual mandate — both of which are designed to ensure a robust mix of enrollees. Once again, the fiscal integrity of the ACA has been sacrificed in order to secure near-term political victory for the White House… That is, essentially, a delay in the individual mandate — something that administration officials insisted as recently as 10 days ago that they neither could nor would do.”
On its fourth birthday, Obamacare reportedly has insured less than two percent (about 700,000) of those previously uninsured. To accomplish this, millions of Americans already with health insurance coverage have (or will have) seen their policies turned upside down, particularly in the form of skyrocketing premiums.
Reasons for those not enrolling in Obamacare include ongoing website glitches, the complexity of trying to figure out subsidy eligibility, and the one-size-fits-all coverage being way too expensive (despite promises otherwise).
In addition to this Obamacare enrollment grace period, do you think there will be even more Obamacare delays prior to the 2014 midterm elections?