The Obama Administration has, coincidentally I’m sure, pushed back the start of second-year enrollment in Obamacare by one month to November 15th. In other words, you won’t see disastrous rate hikes until after the mid-term elections.
The Obama administration plans to push back by a month the second-year start of enrollment in its health program to give insurers more time to adjust to growing pains in the U.S. law, a move that may stave off higher premiums before the 2014 congressional elections.
The enrollment period, previously scheduled to begin Oct. 15, 2014, will now start Nov. 15, said an official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who asked not to be identified because the decision isn’t public. The change is important to insurers that need more time to evaluate the first year of the government-run marketplaces.
Technical problems are undermining efforts to attract a broad array of customers to the new markets, a prerequisite to keeping plans affordable in the long run. Keeping prices from spiking next year is “absolutely critical” for President Barack Obama if he wants to preserve his signature legislative achievement, said Ana Gupte, a Leerink Swann & Co. analyst.
“The death of this law would be for health insurance companies to price policies for 2015 in a way that premiums skyrocket,” said Gupte, who is based in New York, in a telephone interview. “At that point, it’s a death spiral and it’s over. So he needs to do something.”
Moving enrollment out of election season will hide the price hikes and cancellations from voters until after they have had a chance to cast their ballot. An early Christmas present for vulnerable Democrats who are already seeing their re-election chances tanking.
But the death spiral has already begun. The rate hikes will come. The collapse will be imminent whether or not the deadline is October 15th or November 15th.