Team Obama intends to put forth a plan to push off public awareness of next year's individual insurance price hikes until after the election:
President Barack Obama plans to push back the second-year start of enrollment in Affordable Care Act health plans, a move that would let insurers adjust to growing pains in the overhaul and potentially stave off premium increases 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 usual ACA apologists explain that there are sound public policy reasons for this:
Moving the year-two filing deadline back a month gives insurers more time to analyze claims from the first year of plans sold as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The young, healthy people needed to balance the cost of care for older consumers aren’t likely to sign up in large numbers until March, said Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped design the law.
“This is an important business for them and they want to make smart decisions about how they set their rates,” Gruber said in a telephone interview. “It’s in the nation’s interest they get time to make those decisions.”
BWAHAHA! Eventually others suggest a less beneificient motive:
Starting enrollment after the Nov. 4 congressional elections may also be important to a president seeking to hang onto the Democrat-led Senate and maintain or gain seats in the Republican-led House of Representatives. Popularity of the Affordable Care Act has already fallen to record lows.
The one-month delay revealed yesterday is just long enough so “consumers will not see their 2015 premiums until after the midterm elections, instead of immediately before,” said Mike Tuffin, a former insurance industry lobbyist who is now managing director of consulting firm APCO Worldwide’s Washington office. “One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to divine the motive here.”
I will note that the story includes this about the timing:
The first-year enrollment period that began Oct. 1 runs through March 31, 2014. Insurers would have then had until May to decide if they wanted to participate in the next round and determine what rates they would charge.
The HHS official said that if the rate filing deadline is pushed back, the agency also needs extra time before enrollment begins to review the plans and premiums, certify them, load them into the government’s health insurance website, and let insurers double-check they are correct.
If I am following, insurers will have an extra month to submit proposed pricing for 2015. That means that come the end of June 2014, the 2015 pricing will have been submitted to HHS and the state commissioners. So we can anticipate a four month Administration/media cover-up as HHS tries to prevent the rest of us from seeing the proposed figures. But the various states also have the info, and may choose to trumpet the results (e.g., Ohio was boosting the 'lower than expected' prices for 2014 as of July 2013.)
Well. Plenty of Republican governors will make the numbers available, but it is probably true that people won't really focus until it is time to sign up.