New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen is leading a coalition asking for an unspecified extension of ObamaCare’s March 15 enrollment deadline. Mr. Begich (Alaska), Mark Pryor (Arkansas) and Mark Udall (Colorado) are among those on this bus, though Ms. Shaheen has special cause for alarm given that New Hampshire’s joint state-federal exchange enlisted only a single insurer, whose narrow network excludes 10 of the state’s 26 acute-care hospitals.
But her idea would merely draw out the technical agony, and the exchange premiums are based on assumptions of a full year of coverage. Premiums may not cover claims if people delay or forgo signing up in 2014, and then rates will spike the next year. All of this would also give the exchanges a stigma as untrustworthy, more so than even Health and Human Services incompetence.
The Shaheen plan also won’t un-terminate insurance or help the people who face a gap in coverage through no fault of their own. Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu is hoping to cauterize that crisis with a bill that supposedly allows people to keep their plan if they stay current on premiums. About 80,000 Louisiana policy holders—or half of the individual market—will be dumped in 2014, according to the state’s insurance commissioner.
Here again, complex insurance contracts take months to plan financially and negotiate with providers. They could be renewed for maybe a few months but not forever, which is why the Landrieu bill is simply a new mandate ordering insurers to continue offering these plans. But the hard business truth is that these plans are already gone. The only way to solve the problem is a time machine to go back to 2010 when HHS published its deliberately restrictive rule on “grandfathering.”