Oh, why not? Yet another arbitary Obamacare delay

**Posted by Phineas

"Quack medicine"
“Quack medicine”

Yet another key part of this anti-constitutional monstrosity is found to be unworkable. This time, it’s the cap on out-of-pocket expenses and ban on lifetime dollar limits for beneficiaries, scheduled by law to begin in 2014. So, what does the Obama administration do when shown it’s prize law is wreaking havoc? Why, issue another probably illegal delay in enforcement.

There’s an election to worry about, after all.

From Avik Roy:

These mandates have already had drastic effects on a number of colleges and universities, which offer inexpensive, defined-cap plans to their healthy, youthful students. Premiums at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C., for example, rose from $245 per student in 2011-2012 to between $2,507 in 2012-2013. The University of Puget Sound paid $165 per student in 2011-2012; their rates rose to between $1,500 and $2,000 for 2012-2013. Other schools have been forced to drop coverage because they could no longer afford it.

According to the law, the limits on out-of-pocket costs for 2014 were $6,350 for individual policies and $12,700 for family ones. But in February, the Department of Labor published a little-noticed rule delaying the cap until 2015. The delay was described yesterday by Robert Pear in the New York Times.


Notes Pear, “Under the [one-year delay], many group health plans will be able to maintain separate out-of-pocket limits for benefits in 2014. As a result, a consumer may be required to pay $6,350 for doctors’ services and hospital care, and an additional $6,350 for prescription drugs under a plan administered by a pharmacy benefit manager.”

The reason for the delay? “Federal officials said that many insurers and employers needed more time to comply because they used separate companies to help administer major medical coverage and drug benefits, with separate limits on out-of-pocket costs. In many cases, the companies have separate computer systems that cannot communicate with one another.”

The best part in Pear’s story is when a “senior administration official” said that “we had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers…They asked for more time to comply.” Exactly how is it in consumers’ interests to pay far more for health insurance than they do already?

Businesses, of course, heaved a sigh of relief at the delay. Consumer groups, on the other hand, are outraged; after all, they supported Obamacare on the promise that their clients’ expenses would be capped. I do have some sympathy; some of these drug treatments are frighteningly expensive, particularly for those with chronic conditions. The promise of having the government pay for most of the care that may keep you alive is very tempting. On the other hand, as Roy points out, these caps do nothing for the underlying cost of treatment, which has to be paid by someone. Ergo, the Obamacare subsidies, which are really transfer payments from the young and healthy to those who are neither.

But, with this delay, the consumer is hit for at least 2014 with both the mandatory coverage requirements and high out-of-pocket expenses. And this comes on the heels of the delay in the employer coverage mandate that leaves the individual mandate in place.Once again, the Obama administration breezily waives a rule to benefit businesses,  while the consumer gets… Well, you know.

Good thing this administration is looking out for the little guy, no? I’d hate to see what would happen if they were out to get him.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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