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Glitch Could Make O-Care Affordable For Smokers

From an outraged Associated Press:

A break for smokers? Glitch may limit penalties


WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

Notice that the original intention was for the penalties in Obama-Care to make healthcare insurance unaffordable for smokers. And once the ‘fix’ is in place, they will make health insurance unaffordable for smokers once again. That’s what’s called ‘social justice.’

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.

Well, young people voted for Obama. Let them enjoy all the fruits of their decision.

Some see an emerging pattern of last-minute switches and delays as the administration scrambles to prepare the Oct. 1 launch of new health insurance markets…

Who doesn’t see this, apart from the mainstream news media?

A June 28 Health and Human Services Department document couched the smokers’ glitch in technical language:

"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.

What a terrible glitch. Surely any 65 year old smoker should have to pay a lot more in premiums than a measley three times more than a 21 year old smoker.

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.

Which was the plan, apparently. Smokers should all die as quickly as possible.

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…

Mind you, they are complaining about the penalty ‘only’ being 50%. By the way, it will be a good laugh to look back at these projected premiums in a few years. They are going to turn out to be many times higher than what we are being told today.

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.

And our $3.7 trillion dollar federal government does not have the technology to change the computer program? How preposterous.

That’s not what insurers had expected.

Perhaps someone somewhere should have read the bill.

Before the glitch popped up, experts said the companies would probably charge lower penalties for younger smokers, and higher penalties for older ones…

It’s unclear what insurance companies will do. A spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, said insurers were aware of the issue and expected the administration would fix it eventually.

Another workaround for the companies would be to charge the full penalty to both younger and older smokers. In that case, there wouldn’t be any savings for older smokers, and younger ones would see a big price shock…

Gee, let’s hope they go that route. (And you know they will, eventually.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

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