Monday, February 16, 2015

Second ObamaCare Enrollment Period Ends, or Does It?

The greatest challenge in life is an unhatched egg.

E.B. White (1899-1985), American essayist and sometime farmer.

For multiple reasons, the end of the 2nd ObamaCare enrollment period, which supposedly went from November 15, 2014, to February 15, 2015, reminds me of chicken metaphors.

First, a Little Background

At this point, we do not know many things: How many people enrolled. 9 million? 10 million? How many paid their first premium? How many were automatically re-enrolled? How many were newly enrolled?

We do know these facts. The federal and state exchanges have extended the deadline for enrolling, sometimes for a week, a month. It depends on federal and state exchanges. Millions of people, some say as many as 5 million, do not even know they would have to pay penalty of $95, which will grow to over a $1000, by 2017, if they do not have a health plan.

These people, known as “constituents” to politicians, will be enraged when the IRS informs them of their penalty for not being insured.

To many constituents, paying a penalty will seem counter-intuitive: If they could not afford to buy health insurance, how can they afford to pay penalties for not being insured?

The constituents will quickly learn there are 30 or more exceptions, waivers, or extensions, that effect over 30 million people, and the phone lines to the IRS will be clogged to learn how to dodge the penalties.

Half the people calling the IRS will get no return call, and the other half will have to wait 30 minutes or more to get through.

The IRS will complain it can’t respond because its budget has been cut, and HHS will complain penalties were its main source of funding ObamaCare.

So where do the chicken metaphors come in?

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. The number hatched were supposed to be hatched by February 15, but because we don’t know how many eggs were left unhatched, we will simply extend the hatching period.

The chickens always come home to roost. Here the chicken is the individual mandate, which involves ever American. Have a health plan, or pay the Rooster, whether you can afford to or not, whether you want to or not.

Mad as a wet hen - This aptly describes how people who were unaware of the penalty will feel when they get their IRS refund or lack of it will feel when they find they have been docked for not having health insurance.

The Rooster rules the roost. The rooster, of course, is the federal government, and when he says you have to have a health plan, and he won’t take No for an answer you'd better listen. In fact, you are mandated to listen.

Running around like a chicken with head cut off - This may apply to President Obama, who, after the initial disastrous roll-out, said the government had laid an egg, but he was personally unaware of the problem and had not been informed there was an oversight problem.

With the impending Supreme Court decision on the legality of federal exchange subsidies, the hatching period of ObamaCare could come to an abrupt end , with nothing left by smashed eggs and an uncooked omelette.

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