Democrats Seek To Fix Bug In Obamacare Deadline

The Affordable Care Act has been a tremendous success in increasing the number of people insured, reducing the cost of health care coverage, and eliminating the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage to those who develop medical problems. However it is not surprising that a law of its complexity does get some details wrong. When I first heard that open enrollment would end in mid-February I thought this was a mistake.

Some of those who failed to purchase coverage last year might not realize that they risk paying penalties, and they might not realize this until around April 15 if they wait until the last minute to complete their taxes. If the goal of the mandate is to encourage people to sign up to avoid penalties, enrollment should extend through April 15. That way people could sign up for insurance to avoid the mandate.

I was glad to see that some Democrats have realized this and are working to fix the problem by urging the Obama administration to have a special enrollment period:

Three senior House members told The Associated Press that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year.

The three are Michigan’s Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama’s law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.

The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it’s already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.

That means they could wind up uninsured for another year, only to owe substantially higher fines in 2016. The fines are collected through the income tax system.

This year is the first time ordinary Americans will experience the complicated interactions between the health care law and taxes. Based on congressional analysis, tax preparation giant H&R Block says roughly 4 million uninsured people will pay penalties.


  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    Like just about everyone on America I do not understand ‘Obamacare’ either.  Nor, I suspect, do you!  For example:

    a tremendous success in increasing the number of people insured”
    “eliminating the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage to those who develop medical problems”
    “reducing the cost of health care coverage”

    Does that not strike you as just a teensy-weensy bit illogical?  Your system will treat *more* people, will treat people previously excluded because of their *bad medical history* … and yet … and yet … it is *reducing* the cost of health care coverage!

    I wonder, Ron, if you have ever considered a career in the second-hand car trade?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    All these statements are true and I have presented the evidence in previous posts. Expanding the risk pool helps make it possible to treat more people at a lower cost. It is also more cost effective to treat people through insurance directly as opposed to treating them in the ER. Having a large number of uninsured leads to costs which get added on to the costs of those buying insurance. The tax breaks also make insurance coverage more affordable for many purchasing insurance.

    The data has been quite clear. Going with facts as opposed to what you find logical will provide more accurate information. However we have seen that you prefer to go with ideology over facts on pretty much every issue.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Here’s another way that the ACA is decreasing premiums which even a conservative should understand. Previously most markets were dominated by one or two insurance companies. They would often increase premiums by double digits every year. Under the ACA there are multiple insurance companies competing for business in many more markets. Suddenly, facing competition, insurance companies are decreasing premiums–something we sure never saw before.

    In the cases where competition isn’t bringing down premiums, regulations in the ACA require that a certain percentage of premiums go directly towards paying benefits, as opposed to company profits. Insurance companies which take in too much money compared to what they are paying out have to issue a refund to policy holders.

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