Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Another Implementation Delay, Another Sign Obamacare Not Ready for Prime Time

WASHINGTON — In another setback for President Obama’s health care initiative, the administration has delayed until 2015 a significant consumer protection in the law that limits how much people may have to spend on their own health care.
The limit on out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and co-payments, was not supposed to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. But under a little-noticed ruling, federal officials have granted a one-year grace period to some insurers, allowing them to set higher limits, or no limit at all on some costs, in 2014.
Robert Pear,  “Limit on Consumer Costs Is Delayed in Health Care Law,” New York Times,  August 12, 2013

First, there was the delay of Obamacare’s Medicare cuts until after the election. Then there was the delay of the law’s employer mandate. Then there was the announcement, buried in the Federal Register, that the administration would delay enforcement of a number of key eligibility requirements for the law’s health insurance subsidies, relying on the “honor system” instead. Now comes word that another costly provision of the health law—its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs—will be delayed for one more year.
Avik Roy, “Yet Another White House Obamacare Delay: Out-Of-Pocket Caps Waived Until 2015, Forbes, August 13, 2013

Obamacare) will likely be a nightmare of missed deadlines, public confusion, inconsistent exceptions, and dashed expectations. Every claim made for the bill will be shown to be false: health costs will go up, not down; government spending and debt will go up, not down; the economy will be injured, not benefited; people in the millions will in fact lose their health insurance they have and like.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, speaking to a conference of the William S. Buckley, Jr, program at Yale, November 3, 2012

Suspicion is growing out there – among the public,  state government officials,  insurers, and health providers – that Obamacare is not ready for prime time – that critical period between October 1, 2013 and January 1, 2014 - when Obamacare is supposed to kick in full force.  
Today is just another day in the Obamacare saga – another day, another delay.   The next delay may be putting off  implementation of the health exchanges until 2015. 
 Despite Obama and HHS assurances to the contrary, namely that all systems are go,  almost everybody outside the federal government, knows this is wishful thinking.   Most state health exchange computer systems have yet to be debugged and field tested.   The “hub” system, connecting data from all federal agencies necessary to verify eligibility for Obamacare subsidies, isn’t ready.  
 The IRS,  the supposed enforcer of Obamacare implementation,  is mired in controversy over its partisan targeting of conservative groups opposing Obamacare.  
In short,  Obamacare is becoming a logistical, technological, and political nightmare. 

According to  Avik Roy in the Forbes article,  “There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you ban lifetime limits, and mandate lower deductibles, and cap out-of-pocket costs, premiums have to go up to reflect these changes. And unlike a lot of the “rate shock” problems we’ve been discussing, these limits apply not only to individually-purchased health insurance, but also to employer-sponsored coverage.”  Capping out-of-pocket costs would have driven up premiums costs in 2014,  further aggravating the expected “rate shock” of Obamacare, This would  not a good thing for Obama and Democrats before the midterms in November 2014.   Hence, another delay to hide the inevitable spike in premiums for 150 million covered by employers 
It’s beginning to look like the Patient Protection and Affordability Act is misnamed.
Tweet:   In latest  setback,  Obamacare’s monetary caps on consumer out-of-pocket costs delayed until 2015.

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