The White House is planning to tweak Obamacare deadlines again to make up for the botched rollout, and the latest move appears to be both practical and politically advantageous. The enrollment period for 2015 is scheduled to start on Oct. 15, but Bloomberg reports that date will be pushed back a month, according to an official from the Department of Health and Human Services who asked to remain anonymous because the decision hasn’t been announced. The stated purpose is to give insurers more time to deal with technical problems, analyze the mix of people signing up through the marketplaces (which is particularly important since younger, healthier people are expected to wait until the last minute), and set rates for 2015. And in a happy coincidence for Democrats, enrollment would start eleven days after the midterm elections.
According to Politico, the HHS official described the delay as “good news for consumers, who will have more time to learn about plans before enrolling.” Enrollment for 2015 is currently set to run from Oct. 15, 2014 to Dec. 7, 2014, but the change would add an extra week, with sign-ups beginning on Nov. 15, 2014 and ending on Jan. 15, 2015. If premiums shoot up in 2015, it could be disastrous, and Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who helped design the law, told Bloomberg, “It’s in the nation’s interest [that insurers] get time to make those decisions.”
Plus, as noted by Mike Tuffin, a former insurance industry lobbyist and current managing director of APCO Worldwide’s D.C. office, thanks to the month-long delay, “consumers will not see their 2015 premiums until after the midterm elections, instead of immediately before.” Tuffin adds, “One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to divine the motive here.” And if anyone doesn’t see it, Obamacare’s opponents should be eager to spell it out.