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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Obamacare's Second Year

On June 26, 2014, this article by Amy Goldstein appeared in the Washington Post.

Another round of registering for ObamaCare? It seems that some people who obtained their health insurance through the federal exchange may have to repeat the registration process because the ACA didn't make the proper provisions for automatic re-enrollment.

Complete article below the fold — emphases mine in red and a few of my own comments in blue:
HHS sets enrollment rules for year two of Obamacare

The Obama administration proposed new rules Thursday to let most Americans with health plans in the federal health insurance marketplace be enrolled automatically in a second year of coverage, but the approach prompted swift questions about how it would work and who would benefit.

Under the method proposed Thursday by federal health officials, the government will renew people in their current health plans as long as their incomes and covered family members are not changing — and as long as the plan will be offered through the federal marketplace for 2015.

Through this arrangement, the government will give people eligible for federal help in paying for their insurance the same subsidy they have now, as long as they gave permission for their tax records to be checked automatically when they first applied to join the insurance exchange.

Federal health officials portrayed this method, with rules that would need to be finalized, as a way to allow more than nine in 10 Americans who signed up for coverage that began this year under the Affordable Care Act to keep their coverage without needing to return to HealthCare.gov, the Web site for the marketplace.

“We are committed to simplifying the experience for consumers by allowing auto-enrollment,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the new secretary of health and human services, said in a statement. “We are working to streamline the process for consumers wishing to remain in their current plan.”

These rules have been anxiously awaited by consumer advocates and others concerned about whether the policies and the computer systems underlying the federal health insurance marketplace would make it easy or cumbersome for people to continue their new coverage.

For their part, administration officials have been eager to give consumers an easy path to continue in the exchange for the second year. They hope to lessen memories of the beginnings of HealthCare.gov — a launch in October so problem-ridden that many people were thwarted as they tried to sign up, compelling President Obama to apologize.

By early spring, when the first sign-up period ended, 5.4 million people had chosen health plans through the federal exchange and nearly 3 million more through 14 separate state-run marketplaces — more than anticipated. But uncertainty has lingered over how well people like their new health plans, how many are continuing to pay the monthly premiums, and what will happen in the fall once the second enrollment season opens Nov. 15. [before 2014 statements of earnings are available]

But the rules proposed Thursday will not allow everyone to enroll automatically, and in fact may mask messy subtleties that could end up requiring many people to return to HealthCare.gov, after all, according to several health policy specialists.

The wrinkles stem, in part, from a main difference between the new federal insurance marketplace and routines elsewhere in the health-insurance industry. While renewing coverage each year is a common experience, the federal exchange has an added layer of complexity because the 2010 health-care law that created it also provided for the first time for Americans well into the middle class to receive federal tax credits to help them afford private insurance policies.

According to federal figures, 87 percent of the people in the federal insurance marketplace are receiving subsidies. On average, the tax credits are $264 per month, lowering monthly premiums from $346 to $82.
[A friend of mine has a subsidy such that she pays only $21 per month.  How is that possible?  And will she have to pay back some of the subsidy she has already received?  Other articles I've read indicate that the insured will have to pay back subsidy amounts over the limit] The amount of help families get depends on their income.

Under the proposed rules, the government will renew people’s insurance with their subsidy intact only for consumers who gave permission for the insurance exchange to check their tax records to make sure their reported income is accurate. Federal officials said that about 100,000 applicants during the first sign-up period did not provide such permission, so their coverage would be renewed for the coming year without any subsidy. They will receive federal notices that they need to reapply if they want their subsidy to continue.

In general, federal health officials said, continuing people’s current subsidies makes sense because customers in the insurance exchange must report through HealthCare.gov any changes in their incomes within a month of the change — so the subsidies should be up to date.

But Robert Laszewski, a consultant who has been critical of the law and has clients across the health-care industry, said that most people with this new insurance do not understand that they need to report income changes to the government. So, in practice, he said: “Virtually everyone is going to have to go back to HealthCare.gov. This is auto-enrollment in spin only.”

Ron Pollack, executive director of the consumer-health lobby Families USA, said the administration’s plan could promote stability, diminishing “churn” — people moving in and out of various health plans, which is common in public insurance programs such as Medicaid.

It is not yet clear how many of the health plans on the federal marketplaces this year will be offered for 2015, or how popular the remaining ones will be, because insurers around the country are in the midst of deciding which plans to offer and at what price. Under the proposed rules, if a plan disappears, consumers would automatically be assigned to the most similar other one offered by the same insurer. If the insurer dropped out entirely from the area in which someone lives, the consumer would be enrolled in the most similar plan available from a different insurer.

Pollack noted a possible drawback for consumers to letting HealthCare.gov renew them automatically: The government plans to send notices about this auto-enroll option in late summer or early fall, before the full set of insurance choices is available in many parts of the country. [again, before 2014 statements of earnings are available] “They may not have information about other plans that could be selected,” he said — a particular concern because early evidence suggests that new health plans coming into certain states’ marketplaces may be less expensive than ones already available.

In a related enrollment decision, federal health officials recently told insurance-industry representatives said that one intended enrollment avenue that was unavailable last year, called “direct enrollment,” would not be offered during the second enrollment period because the computer capacity will not be ready. In direct enrollment, customers can go to insurance agents and brokers to figure out their subsidies through the exchange and sign up for coverage.
These two questions are the first concerns that occurred to me, but you may have other concerns or observations:

1. Will many who recently purchased coverage via the federal exchange have to start all over again beginning on November 15 (a date that occurs after the mid-term elections on November 5)?

2. Will the rollout of ObamaCare Round 2 be just as bad as the first rollout


  1. What the media refuses to cover are the deductibles. $5 to $6 thousand dollars required before these great policies kick in. This has caused Hospitals to lose millions of dollars and moves them further into bankruptcy. In fact E.R. visits have increased due to Obamacare with the Hospitals stuck even more. Before they could try and cover monies via Medicaid or other state programs.

    1. Bunkerville,
      Thank you for mentioning the matter of deductibles.

      How can someone with a subsidy -- I mean a person who really qualifies for a subsidy out of actual need -- afford those deductibles in the first place?

      Are you aware that, for the first time in many years, many hospitals are full up -- thanks to the arrival of ObamaCare? Furthermore, hospitals have unpaid bills upon unpaid bills. This is unsustainable!

  2. Sorry for the change of Subject, but the Murder of those of Israeli Teens, is a very Important subject and one that is very dear to me!

    So our “Dear Leader” told Israel, "Not to destabilize the situation" over the SLAUGHTERED teens.
    STFU Obama!
    You aren't a friend to Israel, and you never were, in fact quite the opposite. You allow murdering thugs to torture and kill Americans in Benghazi. You are weak and a laughing stock around the world. Israel knows her security lies in strength, not cowardice.. Israel has the absolute right to seek justice so butt the hell out, and go tell your stupid stories to the Lesbian crowd, or go play another round of Golf.
    And to the Liberals, Progressives. andAnti-Semites who swarm in to defend “Our dear leader” like flies on Horse manure, don’t bother, we've all heard it before. Israel has the right and the duty to defend herself without that JACKASS in the White House, or anyone else sticking their nose’s in it.
    This retaliation was a long tome coming. And before the Queen of progressive’s comes by to worship the Liar-In -Chief, Go cram a hamster up your azz Queenie.. This isn’t about your boy King. This is about his thinking that he can influence a tiny nation to sit around and talk about
    No jumping to Conclusions”.. His love for Hamas and other terror organizations is obvious, to everyone. .
    Israel IS going to hunt down those kidnappers and Murderers’ and punish their government dearly instead of making speeches about it and running off to “Fund Raisers” _________________And lets not forget that one of those boys was an American Citizen! Ignoring these Murdering Terrorists would only embolden more of these terrorists.

    1. Political Chic,
      one of those boys was an American Citizen




      I hadn't encountered that information before I read your comment!

  3. You don’t have to wait any longer, the Israeli Air Force has already carried out what it called "precision strikes" on 34 "terror targets" in the Gaza Strip overnight, And well deserved I might add, these 3 INNOCENT teens who did nothing but were walking home from school, and were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals. Thank God we have people like Bibi Netanyahu.

    Cańt wait for the cry babies, like Ducky, Libmann, Jersey and the Wicked One or the rest of the Progressive cry babies to condemn Israeli for their raid. . If it were Egypt, or Libya, or Africa Obama would be sending troops in...

  4. This blog post is not about the murders of those Israeli teens.

    Yes, I know that the topic of those murders is important -- as is Obama's "reaction."

    Please adhere to the topic of the blog post, however. Thank you.

  5. AOW, Some times VERY important su just come up that should and must be discussed and should not be ignored.
    And this is one of them.

    1. Perhaps so.

      However, there are many threads all over the web discussing the atrocity perpetrated "those three Israeli teenagers. Active discussions going on at those forums, and I myself have been participating at those threads..

      I posted yet again about ObamaCare because I believe that those who signed up via the federal exchanges may have yet another ObamaCare surprise awaiting them. In fact, two of my closest friends signed up via HealthCare.gove. Forewarned is forearmed!

  6. However yours is the site we go to , not the many others.

    1. I'll take that as a compliment.

      So, why haven't I posted about those three Israeli teenagers front-and-center?

      In part, because I queue up posts fairly well in advance. Caregiving my husband and my work schedule and my own health situation limit the time that I have on the web. Those are not excuses -- those are my realities.

      I do have an open thread scheduled for July 12. I hope that by then we know more about the consequences for those vile murderers. The deaths of those Israeli teenagers are not going unavenged.

    2. I don't know if you can ever avenge a Son's murder?


  7. The Lib/Progressive blogs are not even mentioning this!!!

    1. Define "this." [no snark implied or intended]

    2. The cowardly murders of 3 innocent teenagers, for no reason but to show the world what they are. And to tell the world that they better wake up because they or their loved ones could be next!

  8. AOW, I think that blogging about this subject couldn't wait until July 12th, and the folks were correct in bringing it up today, while it was hot off the press. And Obama's response was all but missing!
    As always.


  9. Affordable Care Act (ACA)


    If you ask me, ACA should stand for the [Attorney's Companion Act]. Those b@$t@rd$ are the only ones benefiting from it!

  10. So, we're going to trash a 3/4 Billion website billed by michele's friend and pay to have it recreated from scratch and hey, No Problemo, because you know, it were a democrat in charge

    Where did the libtards go? I don't see em around anywhere. Did they come to their senses perhaps? Naw. Must be breeding or catching 80 winks.

    1. To put people through the re-registration process will work another hardship on Americans.

      One of my friends, a techie who caregives his disabled wife, finally got health insurance via HealthCare.gov. He had been trying to register for hours upon hours and weeks upon weeks; finally, at 4:00 A.M. on Christmas morning, he got registered and obtained a policy.


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