Obamacare

If You Like Your Obamacare Health Plan, You Can Keep It, If HHS Doesn't Pick a New One For You

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Whitehouse.gov

Here's a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare's auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law's exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you'd be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier.

From the attached fact sheet

Under current rules, consumers who do not take action during the openenrollment window are re-enrolled in the same plan they were in the previous year, even if that plan experienced significant premium increases. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan.

(Fact sheet via Adrianna McIntyre; proposal first noted by Politico.) 

States running their own exchanges could start doing this in 2016, and federal exchanges could start in 2017. 

It's not just auto-reenrollment. It's auto-reassignment, at least for those who pick that option. Basically, if you like your plan, but don't go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There's always next year. 

A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what's best. 

Presumably the idea came up because, even though by some measures premiums aren't rising by large amounts this year, premiums for many of the lowest cost and most popular plans from last year are rising quite a bit. And since HHS decided over the summer to institute auto-renewal, and since the majority of Obamacare enrollees are expected to take no action and thus stay in their current plans, the reality is that under the current system a lot of enrollees are likely to see large premium hikes, just because they didn't shop around for a new plan.

This sort of problem was more or less inevitable with automatic renewal, which was probably instituted as a way to shore up enrollment and prevent too much attrition in year two. The easy, straightforward way to fix it would be to turn auto renewal off. But that might result in lower enrollment. And anyway, why go the obvious route when there's the possibility of having federal and state health bureaucrats make even more choices for you? 

This isn't an actual rule yet; it's just a proposed rule. But the fact that Obamacare's overseers are thinking like this says a lot—about their government-knows-best bureaucratic mentality and about the complications of the law itself. 

Update: There does appear to be some possibility of user choice built into the plan; although the summary fact sheet doesn't note it, enrollees would be able to select whether or not they want to be involved in auto-reassignment. Enrollees still, however, wouldn't know exactly what they would be getting into when they made their choice.

NEXT: Judge Strikes Down Reform of Illinois' Extremely Screwed Up Public Pensions

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  1. oh Weeeeeiiiiiggggggeeeeeellllll

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  2. Boy, these guys just keep making PPACA better and better.

    Thank God I have decent employer coverage. Yeah, it’s gone up in price significantly. But Daughter #1 is out in Obamacare wasteland, trying to get a policy….and it’s a fucking nightmare.

    The fact the the ‘muran sheeple (yeah, incl me) haven’t risen up with pitchforks, torches, and AR15’s suggests it’s over for freedom. Cause if this shit doesn’t get people jacked up, I don’t know what will.

    Oh wait, yes we do – scheduling a speech during primetime….

    1. Look at other places where these sleazy cocksuckers have had power and see how long they went and how far they had to go before people got enough.

      It is depressing.

      1. Remember, for every person like you (or me) who’s had enough, there’s someone bent over the chair lovin’ it!

  3. Why would plans get more expensive? I was told that the ACA would bring costs down.

    1. It will also not raise the debt!

      1. I was told that Obama would heal the planet and stop the rising oceans.

  4. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan.

    Golly. Why do you suppose that new plan is cheaper?

    But the aggregate numbers (all anybody involved in this clusterfuck cares about, at this point) will show costs going down. Which means they’re GENIUSES!

    1. “Golly. Why do you suppose that new plan is cheaper?”

      I dunno. Generosity?

  5. “But the fact that Obamacare’s overseers are thinking like this says a lot”

    The fact that it was released after the news cycle on Friday says a lot, also.
    Someone is hoping this hits the Saturday newspapers on page 8 and the Saturday evening news breaks in college football.

    1. Where will the Obamacare clients be when they find out they’re in a newly-shrunk network that excludes their current pediatric oncologist?

      1. Imagine the surprise when someone calls “their” doctor and finds their plan no longer includes this doctor!
        Merriment ensues!

        1. I could use some merriment.

        2. “Merriment ensues!”

          =D

    2. How fucking transparent (NPI) is that? Is no one supposed to notice what they’re doing because of their childish behavior?

  6. Top. Men.

    Note: Feminists have deemed the above sexist. Here is my revision: top. Men. And. Women.

    1. Top twits.

  7. Feminists have deemed the above sexist.

    Too dumb to let the Top Men take the bullet? It figures.

  8. OT: It kind of bugs me how so many seem libertarians seem fine with Obama’s executive order because they favor open borders. Heck, I’m in favor of open borders. But unlike an issue such as slavery, immigration is not something which requires executive overreach.

    1. Not to mention that it’s an affront to those who waited legally.

      1. That’s like saying Uber should be banned because it’s an affront to the taxi drivers who legally purchased medallions.

        1. Entirely different scenarios.

          Surely, you can understand why a legal immigrant who waited in line would annoyed with an undocumented worker cutting in front of him, right? Even I’m in favor of open borders, but this EO is a big no.

          1. But the logical extension of that line of thinking is that anything that makes it easier to immigrate is an “affront” to those who had to do it the hard way.

            I mean, they have my sympathies, but the fact that it was really difficult for them shouldn’t really have any impact on how to craft a more just policy.

            1. Not sure I quite agree with you.

          2. *be annoyed

        2. No Uber/Lyft etc. are not taxis. Yes they offer a similar service, but only like a fax machine offers a similar service to the USPS.

        3. I actually think there’s some truth to that — even though the medallion system stinks.

    2. because immigration and slavery are totally the same.

      Plenty of people did NOT agree with Obama’s EO, mostly due to the imperial over-reach of it, and this includes known advocates of open borders. They seem to realize that a president taking such action to do something they support can also use the same action to hinder liberty. Principles vs principals.

      1. “…UNLIKE an issue such as slavery, immigration is NOT something which requires executive overreach.”

        Shoot.

        “…seem libertarians seem…”

        Ignore the first “seem”.

        I don’t know. It’s just that “Reason” has been fairly “meh” on the issue.

        1. Please assure me that “Reason” did not suddenly become representative of libertarians. Say it isn’t so…

          1. Not this libertarian! When idiots keep adding stupid shit like open borders to the libertarian smell test, we can certainly count on LP candidates to remain the

            1. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. A pure libertarian will never win office in this country. And yet, I still find people who think that Rand is a traitor or something.

              1. People love entitlements. Minimizing them is the key; pushing them off the table all at once will just push mainstream voters away. Simple pragmatism.

    3. Ah yes, open borders. Lets devalue the American workforce even more than we already have with offshore manufacturing and ‘free trade’!

      Because for some reason flooding the labor market is a good thing in some people’s minds.

      1. The economic case for free trade, mechanization, immigration, etc. is solid. If you want to sensibly oppose these things, you will need other arguments, perhaps political ones. That’s generally why we spend so much time around here arguing about the political ramifications of immigration: Enough commenters here have a good understanding of how specialization and comparative advantage work to improve our lives in the advanced capitalist order.

      2. BYODB|11.21.14 @ 6:56PM|#
        “Lets devalue the American workforce even more than we already have with offshore manufacturing and ‘free trade’!”

        Heaven forbid!
        Uh, are you lost?

  9. The clusterfuck that keeps on fucking…

    1. Just one question: why do you want poor people to die?! Don’t you know that big government is the only way to help these people?!

      1. Help them die? Well, it isn’t the only way, but it has a comparative advantage in violence, I grant you.

        1. “Help them die?”

          That’s not what I meant. That’s reprehensible. I was being sarcastic.

          1. With a name like that, how could I tell?

            1. Huh?

          2. For someone who was being sarcastic you seem to have little sense of humor.

            1. It’s the Internet. Kind of hard to tell.

      2. was that the VA’s slogan: “help” the old soldiers? Help them to their next life maybe.

          1. No it doesn’t. The valkyries only take those who die in battle. Dying of sickness and/or old age means you definitely DON’T go to Valhalla.

            1. Which seems really fucking stupid on the valkyries part. Why would you go around collecting all the losers? I’d want the guys that were good enough to live through all their battles.

              1. Not really. As far as I know Asatru is the only religion where the good guys are destined to lose the Last Battle. It’s an interesting take on the afterlife.

                1. “As far as I know Asatru is the only religion where the good guys are destined to lose the Last Battle.”

                  I thought some of the Christianities rejected by the mainstream xian powers had Satan the victor at Armageddon?
                  (“Lost Christianities”, Erhman, but it’s been a while since I read it)

                  1. Christianity has had a lot of heresies. Gnosticism bred a lot of weird ideas into and out of various sects of Christianity…one of the weirder ones being that God (demiurge) was actually Satan, we were already in hell, all things material were evil, and the point of earthly life was to separate out the good and evil, but it still had the good guys winning. Of course Satanists think that Satan is the good guy, so perspective is everything. Religion is a freaky thing which is why it has fascinated me for years.

      3. TEATHUGLICANS FAULT COSTS ARE GOING UP!!! BARACK H. CHRIST IS JUST HEALING THE SICK AND LOVING ALL OF US SUBJECTS BUT TEATHUGLICANS WANT TO END ALL HEALTHCARE!!!

  10. Proposed actions for 2016? 2017? I’m hoping it will all be moot by then. But by all means, Sylvia, look busy.

  11. Yay! I just love finding out every day the new ways in which Big Daddy is helping me. Such a relief to know I don’t have to think about all that hard stuff since smart men are thinking for me. It leaves more time for things like playing with my dolls and practicing my baton twirling.

  12. Won’t the subsidies rise if the premiums do? That would seem to me to be why they are automatically switching people to the lowest cost plans.

    1. If the court rules a certain way, a lot of the “subsidies” won’t be subsidies.

      1. If the court rules the right way, a lot of the subsidies won’t be subsidies, you mean, right?

        1. If the court rules a certain way, the subsidies will dry up in 36 states.

          To Laurie’s question, YES, the subsidies will rise along with the premiums.

          BUT, a person could see their subsidies go POOF if their plan/income configuration fell on the wrong side of the cutoff, and the comfy subsidized client who didn’t take the trouble to re-shop at healthcare. gov would only find out when they get their new, improved insurance bill with no subsidy.

          THAT’S why HHS is considering the secret switcheroo. They don’t want the bad PR from tens or hundreds of thousands of people who wake up bankrupted by Obamacare.

          1. If the court rules a certain way, a lot of subsidies will be peniletaxes.

          2. I wonder, though … I mean, the person who got that ‘new and improved’ bill would still have time to switch if they wanted to (given that open enrollment ends 2/15, and your newly inflated bill arrives in Jan).

            Plus I would assume that losing the subsidy would account for more of the increase than the actual premium increase — so how can the bad PR from lost subsidies be avoided, anyway?

            1. Laurie Morgan|11.21.14 @ 9:24PM|#
              “I wonder, though … I mean, the person who got that ‘new and improved’ bill would still have time to switch if they wanted to (given that open enrollment ends 2/15, and your newly inflated bill arrives in Jan).”
              I think you have the dates wrong, but regardless, someone has to *take the effort* to keep from getting screws by Uncle Sugar.
              Why should those assholes add to my burden of keeping an insurance plan I like?
              Regarding your second question, I don’t think so. If that were true, they’d be bragging about it on Wednesday morning instead of burying it on Friday evening.

              1. Why should those assholes add to my burden of keeping an insurance plan I like?

                Sevo, you’re looking at this all wrong. I mean, put yourself in the shoes of a government employee.

                Wow, fuck, I can’t even make up something that sounds good. These people are shit and should be treated as such.

  13. Superb. We studied and chose our new plan, and now they want to subject us to that hugely time-consuming process again and again? Thanks. And thanks for the 20% increase in premiums. I know that we’re supposed to subsidize the subsidized. Expecting many thank you cards any minute from them.

  14. “even though by some measures premiums aren’t rising by large amounts this year, premiums for many of the lowest cost and most popular plans from last year are rising quite a bit.”

    Okay. But they’re still way cheaper and better that pre-ACA policies, right?

    1. Heh-heh. Yeah. Right.

    2. That’s GOOD!

    3. I’m sure the TOP MEN have your best interests at heart. As long as those best interests happen to be MOAR GOVERNMENT.

    4. Of course. Everything we were told about Obamacare (especially how “fair” it is) is true. Just ask Obama and any Democrat and we all know they never, ever lie about anything.

  15. Those who voted for Obama voted for change so all of the changes in Obamacare ought to make them extremely happy.

  16. http://www.dhs.gov/sites/defau…..retion.pdf

    Read the deportation priorities. I wonder if Pri 2 have to register as sex offenders while they wait for DHS to deport?

  17. Clearly illegal.
    An insurance plan is a contract. By auto-reassigning consumers to different plans, they open up the possibility of major lawsuits if the consumers don’t like the terms of the new plan.

    The only way this could work is if the auto-reassignment feature is clearly agreed to, with the terms under which people can be moved to a new plan spelled out. Which would mean that people would have to log back in to sign off on the terms, in which case, they may as well just re-enroll.

    1. hey open up the possibility of major lawsuits if the consumers don’t like the terms of the new plan.

      Hazel, they view this as a feature, not a bug.

    2. No, because the “contract” is renewed each month with your payment. You basically have a “month to month” agreement. If you had a term in the contract – say 1 year – then it would be as you suggest, unless they slip the right to reassign into the fine print. Paying the monthly fee is acknowledgement of accepting the current terms.

  18. Clearly illegal.
    An insurance plan is a contract. By auto-reassigning consumers to different plans, they open up the possibility of major lawsuits if the consumers don’t like the terms of the new plan.

    The only way this could work is if the auto-reassignment feature is clearly agreed to, with the terms under which people can be moved to a new plan spelled out. Which would mean that people would have to log back in to sign off on the terms, in which case, they may as well just re-enroll.

    1. It’s no longer a contract. It’s a forced marriage in a household where the mother-in-law rules with an iron fist.

  19. my co-worker’s mom makes $69 /hr on the computer . She has been fired for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $16929 just working on the computer for a few hours. visit the site….

  20. my co-worker’s mom makes $69 /hr on the computer . She has been fired for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $16929 just working on the computer for a few hours. visit the site….

    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

  21. my neighbor’s aunt makes $75 /hour on the laptop . She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her pay check was $18092 just working on the laptop for a few hours. read the article………. http://www.payflame.com

  22. my neighbor’s aunt makes $75 /hour on the laptop . She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her pay check was $18092 just working on the laptop for a few hours. read the article………. http://www.payflame.com

    1. You should put her in touch with ashbusuttiloac’s co-worker’s mom. She only makes $69/hour on the computer. It sounds like your neighbor’s aunt knows something the co-worker’s mom doesn’t.

  23. Auto renewal is a standard health insurance feature; however, auto enrollment into a different plan is NOT.

    Also, they have lots of trouble determining which plan you are eligible for and how much is costs anyway.

    1. We assure you, the website has been double- and triple-checked this time. There may be glitches, but once the windmill is built…

  24. If a republican program were doing this the press would be apoplectic, will calls for open revolt.

    Instead we are greeted largely with silence, and if the subject is broached, eyerolls.

    Thanks liberaltarians! Thanks for Obama and galloping nannystatism!

  25. That’s not a bad idea to drive costs down. BUT, they should only switch you to that lower plan if your current doctor is in network in that plan. That would minimize disruptions and also give a slight incentive for plans to not have too narrow networks.

    1. Right, because every detail of your chosen plan, other than your primary physician, is irrelevant to your well being…

    2. Maybe they could also just change my cable plan on me as long the new, cheaper one has my favorite channel. Or they could change my newspaper subscription to a cheaper one that has my favorite columnist. Or they could ban me from buying the prescription meds I like and only provide access to cheaper generics with the same active ingredient. At some point, maybe they could fire me from my job and substitute me with someone who will work for less so my employer can achieve savings.

      I need the government to take away my choices so they can say costs are going down. (By the way, did you mean costs or prices?)

  26. my co-worker’s mother makes $60 hourly on the internet . She has been out of work for 8 months but last month her paycheck was $18001 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit this site……

    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

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