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White House keeps moving Obamacare enrollment deadline as website's troubles continue

Friday, January 03, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Obamacare, enrollment deadline, White House

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(NaturalNews) Are you required to have health insurance after Jan. 1? Are businesses with more than 50 employees supposed to insure each of them by now? What about options - can you keep your catastrophic coverage and your old insurance plan?

All of these questions and more are now up in the air, thanks to the near-constant changing of deadlines and requirements by President Obama, perhaps the most constitutionally challenged chief executive in the history of the republic.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal:

A last-minute rush of customers helped new health-insurance exchanges boost enrollment [last] week, and many states extended deadlines to accommodate stragglers.

But officials acknowledged they had a long way to go to make a big dent in the number of uninsured people and attract the younger, healthier customers needed to make the economics of the new marketplaces work.

Shifting deadlines creating havoc

In the wake of so many deadline shifts is a confusing mix of rules, regulations and mandates that no one can fully explain - or that the Obama administration can reasonably explain, outside of implementing them for purely political reasons.

That said, there has been a huge amount of problems for even enrolling for coverage. As most Americans are aware, the roll-out of the Obamacare federal online insurance exchange - Healthcare.gov - which covers 36 states (only 14 chose to establish their own state-run exchanges) was an unmitigated disaster. Even at this late date, scores of Americans who did manage to sign up aren't even sure whether they are covered; many more still haven't even paid their premiums, because they are unsure of whom to pay them to.

At first, the White House set a deadline of Dec. 15 for those who wanted coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, but that deadline was later moved - and then moved again:

As darkness fell on Christmas Eve, the federal HealthCare.gov site posted a further modification, saying people who "might have run into delays" and missed the deadline should contact a call center. "We still may be able to help you get covered as soon as January 1," it said.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman, Joanne Peters, said the call centers "are doing casework on an individual basis."

Even the states running their exchanges have announced similar delays. That includes California, which set a new deadline a couple weeks after the (initial) federal deadline of Dec. 15. Other states, including Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island, told residents that they could sign up as late as New Year's Eve for coverage that would begin the first day of 2014.

But all of the changes have been deeply confusing for insurers, as well as costly and overly bureaucratic. With rapidly changing rules and deadlines, insurers are struggling mightily to get required paperwork so that people who have actually signed up can actually use their coverage.

Who knows how many have even signed up

As far as how many Americans have enrolled, the figures are murky, at best, and wholly inaccurate at worst. State figures, for instance, suggest that many residents have delayed buying coverage - possibly because they can't afford it, possibly because of the confusing system of rules and possibly because non-function systems have prevented them from doing so. But whatever the reason, analysts say this much is clear: Far fewer paying customers have signed up (think young customers especially) than are necessary for Obamacare to actually pay for itself, as promised:

The totals showed a wide divergence, with technology troubles leaving states such as Maryland, Minnesota and Oregon far behind similarly sized states. Those states have replaced their health-exchange directors and Maryland brought in a new contractor that also is working to repair the federal website.

On Dec. 20, Obama announced that more than 1 million people had signed up nationwide for private coverage through the health insurance exchanges; by year's end, state figures would suggest that that number has risen to 2 million.

But even that total number falls far short of the 3 million enrollees in private coverage that the administration projected in one early estimate, and well short of the 7-8 million mostly healthy payers needed to ensure that the system can pay for itself.





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