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Obamacare delays enrollment



If you believe HHS delayed Obamacare enrollment just to give insurers more time to set rates, I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge

At about midnight last night, the government announced the latest in a series of cynical ploys. They delayed the period for open enrollment in Obamacare from 15 October-7 December 2014 to 15 November 2014-15 January 2015. How convenient! Eleven days after the midterm elections!

A political delay

If you believe HHS delayed Obamacare enrollment just to give insurers more time to set rates, I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge, the most sold bridge in the world. Photo: Simone Roda, CC BY 2.0 Generic License

Of course everyone knew about this report by Scott Gottlieb at the American Enterprise Institute. In that report he told the world that 100 million people would lose their group health insurance. He also said when they would hear about it. Three days before the election. (Gottlieb also revealed the Obama administration knew about this in 2010. How did everyone know it? After all, the American Enterprise Institute is not a household name. But Fox News is. They carried the story. (As did CNAV.)

After that story broke, Barack Obama called several liberal reporters to the White House for a hush-hush meeting. (Juan Williams, one of several liberal voices at Fox, also attended.) And while that meeting went on, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blew up the Senate. (Everyone assumes that rule change was valid. Since it broke Standing Rule Twenty-three, it might not stand.)

Maybe they thought they could distract the people from talking about Obamacare. If so, they thought wrong. And someone, in some office, must have looked at the timing, and clapped the palm of his hand to his face.

So the government delayed the enrollment. First to report on this was reprinted it. Susan Levine at also reported it.

Both reports carried a standard government line. The Health and Human Services Department announced the delay. Why?


To [give] insurers more time to set rates after assessing their plan experiences during 2014.

So says Levine, probably quoting the Bloomberg piece.

Does anyone other than a village idiot believe that? If so, CNAV has a partnership stake in a bridge spanning New York’s East River that we would like to offer for sale.

Obamacare won’t work anyway

Why won’t Obamacare work? Scott Gottlieb reports even more this morning. State exchanges have been live for nearly a month. None have the technical problems that has. All show two things:

  1. Enrollment in Obamacare is still far lower than Barack Obama told the country to expect. Even working web sites don’t help.
  2. Those enrolling are mostly older and likely sicker patients. Young and healthy patients are not enrolling.

Gottlieb finds something interesting. Those older enrollees (ages 45 to 54 and older) often don’t qualify for subsidies. Yet they enroll anyway. Why? Gottlieb thinks he knows. They think they’ll need to see a doctor and go to the hospital often in years to come. So they want to get “covered.”

So only those most likely to file claims, are buying Obamacare “insurance.” Insurance actuaries have a nifty catch phrase for this. They call it “the death spiral.” In it, premiums keep rising, and people decide they’d rather take their own risk, instead of making a sucker’s bet. For that’s what insurance really is: a bet. You bet you’ll get sick; the company bets you won’t. So long as you’re willing to lose that bet month after month, year after year, you’re happy. But the day your losses far exceed any winnings you might have, you leave.

Cynical delays in enrollment won’t stop the death spiral from happening. Nor will they work, anyway. Those companies will likely send out the nastygrams far earlier than the start of open enrollment. Early enough that the workers will have those notices in hand as they pore over their sample ballots.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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