by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


Articles tagged with: obamacare open enrollment

27 June 2014

Next Obamacare Open Enrollment is November 15 - February 15

Posted in Latest News

Next Obamacare Open Enrollment is November 15 - February 15

November 15 - February 15 isn't just the season of giving anymore, at least by Santa Claus's calculations and whoever made Black Friday before Thanksgiving. It's also the 2014 - 2015 open enrollment period for health insurance.

That means families who would buy a Wii U might consider a Kaiser Permanente Silver plan instead. Well, Billy has been asking for a new kidney all year. But Dad wanted to be Greninja in the next Super Smash Bros. What's a good parent to do? Blame Obama, of course. 

Originally, the open enrollment period for 2014 was October 15 through December 7. However, the President's administration pushed back the date to give insurers more time to price insurance plans.

Critics believe the President is just doing his party a favor, since Democrats have a chance to win a majority in the Senate if they do well in 2014's mid-term elections. Democrats who supported Obamacare want to avoid Obamacare technical problems like last year's or health insurance "sticker shock" from turning off voters. Instead, they'd rather turn voters off by placing a Covered California booth where the North Pole goes in the Topanga Canyon Mall. 

Open enrollment during the holidays just doesn't work for some people, especially the researchers at Health Affairs. A study suggested more Americans may buy health insurance during tax season, when the average refund is $3000 for income between $50,000 and $75,000, instead of the holiday season, when heating bills and Christmas gifts eat up expendable cash. 

Obamacare's first open enrollment season was twice as long, giving consumers more time to choose a plan from October 1 to March 31. And just when it wasn't long enough, technical problems and customer confusion over deadlines led to deadline extensions to April 15. 

Since the deadline cut into tax season, more people who just received their tax refund could afford health insurance. 52% of young invincibles (age 18-34), who typically earn less than older adults, picked a plan and 47% of people who signed up for subsidized health insurance did so in the last month of open enrollment. 

So the solution to extending open enrollment to tax season is to act confused? Perfect, considering you're probably still wondering why Pokemon are mentioned in a Covered California blog. 

20 May 2014

Why Does Open Enrollment Exist?

Posted in Health Insurance 101

Why Does Open Enrollment Exist?

I always hear this Obamacare complaint when someone wants health insurance now that open enrollment season is over: "Why can't I just get insurance anytime?" It's usually followed by, "Don't you want my money?" or "Stupid Obama. He ruined everything." Harsh.

Open enrollment is the period when someone can sign up for health insurance since the Affordable Care Act passed. Last year, it was October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 (deadline extensions included).

Its intention is to save individuals and insurance companies from financial ruin, not create it. 

Imagine if there wasn't open enrollment. Sure, everyone could get insurance at anytime. It would be beneficial to insurance agents, providers, sick people. Even President Obama might see a popularity boost; at least in the beginning.

But if anyone could sign up for health insurance at anytime, more people would take advantage of the system. You're probably thinking someone always takes advantage of the system, like before the ACA, when medical bills of the uninsured were paid by taxpayers.

Under the ACA, at least the individual mandate means getting insurance during open enrollment or paying a penalty. Essentially everyone contributes their fair share now. 

This scenario always comes to mind if open enrollment didn't exist: a healthy person is uninsured but gets sick. The individual signs up for an expensive plan and pays for it as long as it covers the expensive medical costs. Then upon feeling better, the individual switches to a cheaper plan with less benefits or drops coverage entirely. 

What happened to the insurance company this whole time? The individual only paid for a few months of insurance premiums but received expensive treatment. If everyone did that, every insurance company would be a sucker.

Not only would insurance companies suffer: everyone who gets insurance would see insurance premiums rise. How else would insurance companies pay for everyone's expensive treatments if everyone switched to cheaper plans or dropped coverage at their convenience? 

Not only does open enrollment exist to prevent the system from getting screwed, but during open enrollment, a monthly insurance deadline remains in place for the same reason. 

Monthly deadlines are when an individual can sign up to start coverage the following month. 

Picking a plan between the 1st and the 14th of the month guarantees the plan would go into effect the 1st of the following month and no sooner. Signing up between the 15th and the end of the month would mean the plan starts not next month but the month after that on the 1st.

If an individual has insurance and wants to switch, it will always take at least two weeks to process, essentially forcing a gap month or longer to occur. 

If an individual calls an insurance company and asks to switch plans, the new plan would always start the next month or later. During that gap, the individual would still have to pay for the current plan if he or she wanted to keep it. There would always be the option to cancel the current plan and become uninsured during the gap month instead.

Deadlines and open enrollment exist to incentivize individuals to keep an insurance plan, not risk being uninsured, and minimize switching between cheaper and expensive plans at the individual's convenience. 

Open enrollment starts again November 15, 2014. Some special qualifying life events allow people to get insurance now, even after the open enrollment deadline. Complaining about Obama isn't one of them.

24 October 2013

Meet the A-Team Fixing Obamacare Glitches

Posted in Latest News

Meet the A-Team Fixing Obamacare Glitches

    When the Obama administration says they have their A-Team fixing the glitchy, who are they talking about? The line up hasn't been released, despite the president touting his love of transparency, but here's what it may look like if the bipartisan A-Team of politicians had their hands on Obamacare:

  John "Hannibal" Smith


Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D) from NH

    The leader of the A-Team, Colonel John Smith aka Hannibal had an unorthodox way of getting things done and would presumably rebuild from a Geocities template if he were around today. His counterpart in the political world is Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire.

    She is the first Democrat to suggest something so unorthodox: push back the Obamacare open enrollment deadline. As the law says today, open enrollment begins October 1st and ends March 31st. Anyone who doesn't have insurance through 2014 will pay a tax on next year's return.

    When the biggest video game of 2012, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 came out, account holders who paid for Elite services online couldn't access the website until a month after launch due to glitches. To appease paying customers, the developers granted them an extra free month of access.

    Clearly Shaheen got her idea from playing COD, and pushing the Obamacare open enrollment deadline back one month would result in uttering the A-Team leader's famous phrase, "I love it when plans come together".

Templeton "Faceman" Peck


Sen Ted Cruz (R) from TX

    Second-in-Command Faceman was never honest in his endeavors but by some con he always got the job done. His modern day counterpart is the ringleader of the Tea Party, Ted Cruz from Texas, who manipulated conservatives in Washington to help shut down the entire federal government for nearly 3 weeks.

    Recently, Cruz linked the reason why so few Nigerian email scammers have sent spam recently is because they're busy working on the Obamacare website. Only a con man would make such a connection. Possibly Ted is behind the free "CRUZ" I won according to my voice mails.

    At least he knows how to attract attention, which is just what Obamacare needs since some Americans don't even know Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing. He would be a memorable PR agent as long as someone kept him in line.

Captain H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock


Speaker John Boehner (R) from OH

    The team pilot who is clinically insane can only be one man: John Boehner. Howling Mad suffers from obsessive behavior, much like the Speaker of the House who traded his speaker gavel for a harpoon over the past 3 years and went after Obamacare aka the white whale, 40 times in Congress. His attempts to repeal the law in some form or another failed like Captain Ahab in juggling class.

    Then the government shutdown when Boehner couldn't defund Obamacare.

    When the shutdown ended with zero whale blubber, Boehner claimed the battle may be lost but the war was far from over. He then returned to his Pequod, smoked a carton, and cried during the Monstro scene in Pinocchio.

    Boehner would be the heart of the A-Team, leading with his emotions more than his brain. Congress may not listen to him, but the Planeteers usually ignored Ma-Ti with the power of heart and he was useful for a few episodes. Maybe Boehner needs guidance from an Earth spirit voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.

Bosco "B. A.", or "Bad Attitude", Baracus


Sen Elizabeth Warren (D) from MA

    Elizabeth Warren pities the fool who cuts her off on the Mass Pike.

    Warren's "bad" attitude comes to life in front of greedy bankers who aren't held accountable for national crises. Check out her grilling Wall Street and ask George Foreman who's better to cook fat cats while retaining the juicy fat. 

    Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services declined an invite to the hearing on Obamacare's tumultuous roll out. If one A-Team member could drag her in, it's the Senator who claimed she was an Indian because her parents told her as a kid, then clarified she's more like Mr. T's haircut - of African Wandinka warrior descent.