No doubt by now, having returned from your Independence Day weekend, which I hope was terrific, you have heard the latest aspect of Obamacare to be jettisoned, as administration officials desperately race to meet their October 1 deadline of setting up their healthcare “marketplaces” aka exchanges. If you didn’t hear about, it’s because they used their standard M.O., quietly releasing it on Friday, July 5, knowing that almost no one would be paying attention. From the WaPo:
The Obama administration announced Friday that it would significantly scale back the health law’s requirements that new insurance marketplaces verify consumers’ income and health insurance status.
Instead, the federal government will rely more heavily on consumers’ self-reported information until 2015, when it plans to have stronger verification systems in place.
The delay comes after a Tuesday announcement that the federal government would postpone for one year a requirement that employers with 50 or more full-time workers provide health coverage.
Except here’s the thing. It’s not the latest change to their brilliant plan. Here’s the latest. The most reviled people in society, cigarette smokers, are now going to get a break due to a “computer glitch.” From AP (via Yahoo News):
Some smokers trying to get coverage next year under President Barack Obama’s health care law may get a break from tobacco-use penalties that could have made their premiums unaffordable.
The Obama administration — in yet another health care overhaul delay — has quietly notified insurers that a computer system glitch will limit penalties that the law says the companies may charge smokers. A fix will take at least a year to put in place.
Older smokers are more likely to benefit from the glitch, experts say. But depending on how insurers respond to it, it’s also possible that younger smokers could wind up facing higher penalties than they otherwise would have. …
“Because of a system limitation … the system currently cannot process a premium for a 65-year-old smoker that is … more than three times the premium of a 21-year-old smoker,” the industry guidance said.
If an insurer tries to charge more, “the submission of the (insurer) will be rejected by the system,” it added.
Starting in 2014, the law requires insurance companies to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing medical problems. But it also allows them to charge smokers up to 50 percent higher premiums — a way for insurers to ward off bad risks.
For an older smoker, the cost of the full penalty could be prohibitive.
Premiums for a standard “silver” insurance plan would be about $9,000 a year for a 64-year-old non-smoker, according to the online Kaiser Health Reform Subsidy Calculator. That’s before any tax credits, available on a sliding scale based on income.
For a smoker of the same age, the full 50 percent penalty would add more than $4,500 to the cost of the policy, bringing it to nearly $13,600. And tax credits can’t be used to offset the penalty.
The underlying reason for the glitch is another provision in the health care law that says insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what they charge the youngest adults in the pool. The government’s computer system has been unable to accommodate the two. So younger smokers and older smokers must be charged the same penalty, or the system will kick it out.
Here’s what everyone needs to understand. As I have been saying ever since this ridiculous scheme was being discussed is the reason for it in the first place. The “problem” that Obamacare was designed to address is not the unavailability of health care in America. That was never the reason for it. The “problem” it is designed to address is the “unfairness” inherent in a system that allows someone who works to provide for himself and his family to have better insurance than the wino pushing a shopping cart and muttering to himself, the serial sperm donor and his baby mamas and other “victims” of racist, unfair Amerika. That problem won’t be addressed until everyone, except of course the political royalty and their connected friends, is on Medicaid.
For this scheme to work, they absolutely positively have to get those exchanges in place by January 2014, no matter how big a cobbled together mess they are, and to get as many people as possible dependent on the government for their health insurance. Otherwise, every politician in the country, Democrats included, will be campaigning on getting rid of Obamacare.
From The National Journal (source of the graphic above) in an article entitled “White House Has Known For Months Obamacare Implementation Wouldn’t Work:”
“There’s been a focusing in not on: ‘What is the full ACA vision?’ but: ‘What are the pieces we have to get running by October 1?” said Cindy Gillespie, senior managing director at McKenna Long and Aldridge, who is working with states and health plans.…
In an ideal world, the exchange websites need to be able to talk to several federal agencies—IRS to verify an applicant’s income and employment status, the Department of Homeland Security to determine her citizenship, and the state government to see if she qualifies for Medicaid, to name a few—all in real time, so a person could fill out a form and purchase insurance in one sitting.
What could possibly go wrong? If there’s a bunch of people better at creating cost-effective, efficient systems than the federal government, I’d like to see it.
Stay tuned for the next shoe to drop on this centipede.