If it’s a day of the week ending in y, it must be time for another ObamaCare delay. The latest announcement from the White House is that health plans that do not comply with the law’s multitudinous regulations need not be canceled for another two years — an obvious attempt to salvage Democrats’ control of the Senate in this year’s elections.
Effective January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) outlaws all health-insurance policies that do not meet its requirements. When, last fall, millions of Americans received insurance cancellation notices and found that they could not obtain new insurance via the botched Healthcare.gov, the administration declared that the canceled policies could be reinstated for another year, provided that states and insurers agreed to reinstate them. About half of the states did so, though not all insurers did, both because it was troublesome and because it undermined the point of the ACA’s mandates: forcing young and healthy individuals to buy more expensive policies to offset the costs of covering the sick who now cannot be denied or charged more for coverage.
That delay helped get the administration through one public-relations fiasco, but it was facing a much larger one this autumn. Those same cancellation notices, plus many millions more, were going to start appearing in voters’ mailboxes just ahead of an election in which control of the Senate hangs in the balance.
According to the Wall Street Journal, last year as many as 5.5 million Americans with individual health policies received cancellation notices. Any whose policies were reinstated would have seen them canceled again this year.
The real worry for the administration, however, was that small-group policies were also headed for cancellation. Many small businesses, which typically offer such policies to their employees, avoided cancellation last year by taking advantage of an ACA loophole to lock in their existing coverage through 2014. Come October, though, they would have been facing a raft of such cancellations; and with no mandate requiring them to offer coverage, they would have had a powerful incentive not to purchase expensive ACA-compliant policies but instead to let their employees fend for themselves on the exchanges.
The administration claims that “up to 1.5 million people” with individual or small-group policies would have faced cancellation this year, CNBC reports. That is surely a vast understatement. The American Enterprise Institute issued a report in November that “showed the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges,” according to Fox News. “They predicted up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled [in 2014].”
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