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O-Care ‘Pilot Program’ Will Bypass Exchanges

From Reuters:

U.S. scrambles to boost Obamacare enrollment as deadlines loom

By Roberta Rampton and Sharon Begley | November 23, 2013

(Reuters) – The Obama administration announced a flurry of fixes to its troubled HealthCare.gov website on Friday that officials said would soon double its current capacity, a crucial step toward getting the system working by a November 30 deadline.

It also pushed back a deadline for people to enroll in insurance plans for 2014 under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act in a nod to millions of applicants who have been unable to sign up because of technical glitches for nearly two months…

He’s changed the inviolate ‘Law Of The Land’ again?

People needing health insurance by January 1, 2014 will have eight extra days to sign up, officials said. The original deadline for year-end coverage was December 15, but now will be moved to December 23…

Meaning that the insurance companies will have the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s to make sure everyone is enrolled for the start of the year. How wonderful!

Jeffrey Zients, the troubleshooter named by Obama to oversee fixes to HealthCare.gov told reporters on Friday that the website will soon be able to handle 50,000 simultaneous users – twice its current capacity, and up from fewer than 1,000 in the days after its botched launch on Oct 1…

Wow. Amazon must be green with envy. Still, this probably means it will be mathematically impossible to sign up 7 million people by the end of the enrollment period.

Some of the technical fixes will allow insurance companies to more easily directly enroll consumers in health plans, a senior administration official said.

The administration will run a pilot program for direct enrollment in three states with large numbers of uninsured people – Texas, Florida and Ohio – and use the results to expand the availability of the "direct enrollment" option…

This is the Plan B, where the federal government is basically just side-stepped and people sign up directly with the insurance companies. The only problem being that this depends on the subsidies being correct. Or insurance companies could end up on the hook for untold millions of dollars.

But with the first enrollment period barely off the ground, the Obama administration also has decided to delay enrollment for the second year of the program to give insurance companies more time to calculate rates, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

The delay will mean consumers will start shopping for insurance for Year Two of Obamacare on November 15, 2014 – more than a week after voters go to the polls for midterm elections, when congressional Democrats are expected to face tough questions about the policy they supported.

"That means that if premiums go through the roof in the first year of Obamacare, no one will know about it until after the election," said Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa.

But Carney rejected any assertion that politics was behind the extension.  "The fact is, we’re doing it because it make sense for insurers to have as clear a sense of the pool of consumers they gain in the market this year, before setting rates for next year," Carney said.

Yes, the Obama administration is famous for helping the poor insurance companies.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, November 25th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

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