Extensions

For those who failed to sign up for Obamacare, the administration has provided a list of 17 ways you can get an extension. Apparently the extensions will be granted on the honor system (check a box, and we will trust you). If none of the justifications for extensions apply, you may only have to wait a few days. As HHS explains: “Categories that warrant special enrollment periods may be added in the future if other appropriate circumstances, as determined by CMS, become known.”

Megan McArdle tries to make sense of the latest delay given that it appears that total signups will be close to the Congressional Budget Office’s projections of 6 million. The most troubling scenario: the Young Invincibles are not signing up.

here’s the really worrying scenario: The demographics haven’t budged, or have only barely improved from earlier months. The White House knows that means that big premium increases are in the offing for 2015, and they’re hoping to head them off at least temporarily with this delay. Extending open enrollment, which is essentially what they’re doing, would then be a desperate play to get more young, healthy customers into the exchanges, and perhaps to make it a bit harder for insurers to raise rates. In some states, insurers have to file preliminary rate increases in May. And thanks to this latest extension, they won’t have final data to back up any requests for a premium hike.

David Nathan and Susan Levine (Politico) have provided a brief history of Obamacare delays for those who would like to see the latest adjustments in context.  One can only assume that this history will need to be revised in the near future.

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