On Monday the New York Times quoted an unnamed White House official stating that another piece of the labyrinthine healthcare law is going to have to be delayed until 2015: the cap on out-of-pocket expenses. This delay will potentially cost many Americans with severe illnesses thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars. This flies in the face of the promise that President Obama made in September of 2009 that ObamaCare “will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.”
The cap on annual out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles and co-payments, under ObamaCare was supposed to be $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families. But because insurers’ computers are not linked up properly, there is no way they can track all those out-of-pocket expenses in time for the official start date of October 1, so federal officials have granted them a one-year grace period. This will allow insurers to set higher limits, or even no limits, for the "grace period." Some insurers may even have separate limits for different types of benefits, as noted by the Times: "As a result, a consumer may be required to pay $6,350 for doctors’ services and hospital care, and an additional $6,350 for prescription drugs."
This leaves those with chronic and expensive illnesses potentially having to pay their own costs. Myrl Weinberg, the chief executive of the National Health Council, said, “The government’s unexpected interpretation of the law will disproportionately harm people with complex chronic conditions and disabilities,” costing them many thousands of dollars a year.
This delay comes on the heels of the announcement in July that employers with more than 50 employees won’t be penalized if they aren't able to provide the mandated health coverage in time for the October roll-out. Earlier this year, the Obama administration delayed until 2015 another rule requiring small businesses to offer their employees a choice of coverages under state exchanges. As the Times noted back in April:
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