11th Hour Obamacare Exemption Allows Purchase Of Catastrophic Insurance

The unilateral President has made yet another unilateral, possibly lawless, decision

(Washington Post) The Obama administration on Thursday night significantly relaxed the rules of the federal health-care law for millions of consumers whose individual insurance policies have been canceled, saying they can buy bare-bones plans or entirely avoid a requirement that most Americans have health coverage.

The surprise announcement, days before the Dec. 23 deadline for people to choose plans that will begin Jan. 1, triggered an immediate backlash from the health insurance industry and raised fairness questions about a law intended to promote affordable and comprehensive coverage on a widespread basis.

As Fox News notes, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius was asked point blank if there were any more surprises coming, and she refused to answer

“We asked Secretary Sebelius point blank what would be the next holiday surprise, and she was silent. Yet, here we are with another major policy shift. The sad reality is that when the law takes effect come January 1, more Americans will be without coverage under Obamacare than one year ago,” Blackburn said in a statement released Thursday evening.

Back to Washington Post puff piece

This second change, prompted by a group of Democratic senators – most of whom face tough reelection campaigns next year – goes substantially further in accommodating people upset about losing their policies. The latest rule will allow consumers with a canceled health plan to claim a “hardship exemption” if they think the plans sold through new federal and state marketplaces are too expensive.

So, basically almost everyone who has seen their insurance cancelled. Hey, didn’t Obama and all their peeps say that all those cancelled plans were “substandard“? That was the talking point for a couple weeks. The catastrophic plans themselves are barely less than the bronze plans, and are not eligible for any subsidies. Furthermore, the Exchanges are mostly not set up to offer the plans. Of course, said catastrophic plans must still, according to the text of the ACA, include all the same stuff all the other plans offer. You can see the difference between the new “catastrophic” plans and Bronze plans here.

Federal health officials estimated Thursday that, of all the people whose substandard health plans have been canceled, less than half a million have not chosen new coverage. But they acknowledged that they were not certain.

That’s cute how they the article includes the substandard schtick. More interesting, somehow HHS seems to have at least some data on how many have signed up. I don’t buy it at all. More than likely, there are still millions without plans. Of course, HHS considers those with a plan in a shopping cart as “signed up”.

This is a panic move, designed to protect vulnerable Democrat Senators who are up for re-election in November, made after receiving a letter from Democrats. And, really, is just about optics, since the catastrophic plans are, as previously noted, barely less expensive than Bronze plans, and are not eligible for subsidies. And are difficult to sign up for.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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