HHS effectively delays individual mandate by another month

Another day, another Obamacare delay. HHS issued new, er, guidance late yesterday afternoon about how the health care law’s individual mandate will be enforced on those who did not purchase insurance on time. In short, for those who managed to buy insurance by May 1, it won’t be enforced at all. This is the third postponement of the individual mandate.

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein explains:

Starting in 2014, individuals who did not purchase government approved insurance were supposed to be subject to a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of taxable income. Under the original sequence of events, individuals would have had until Feb. 15 to purchase insurance without being fined. Last October, HHS created a “hardship exemption” that pushed the deadline to March 31 to coincide with the end of the open enrollment period for individuals seeking insurance through the federal exchange.

But in late March, HHS effectively extended open enrollment by announcing that anybody who claimed to have tried to sign up for insurance prior to March 31 would still be allowed to do so after that date.

Now, in regulations announced Friday, HHS has created another “hardship exemption” that would allow individuals who obtained insurance as of May 1 to avoid the mandate penalties.

Klein, who really should be your go-to person for Obamacare info, has more at the link about additional “special exemptions.”

The HHS guidance describes the new hardship exemption as necessary because, it claims, individuals may not have realized that they had to purchase insurance by March 31. To be honest, given the numerous arbitrary changes the Obama administration has made to the health care law, that’s not all that unbelievable.

There is, of course, no real accountability those taking advantage of this exemption, which provides, “Individuals are not required to submit an exemption application to the Marketplace.”