A. E. WILDER-SMITH
In the closing days of the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) , the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was mailing out letters notifying certain Americans that they had already started a healthcare coverage application on their behalf.
The HHS letter stated that the information they used to begin the application for individual Healthcare was obtain by the state agency in charge of implementing Obamacare.
The next step for the individual would be visit Healthcare.gov and complete the already started application to see if they qualify for “Marketplace coverage.”
News of the HHS letter was first mentioned by a listener of the popular “Daybreak with Drew Steele” Show on Fox 92.5, which is out of Fort Myers, Florida.
After his radio show concluded, another listener emailed Steele telling him about receiving the same letter. The listener asked for their identity to masked because they worked for the state of Florida.
— Forwarded message —
Date: Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 8:26 PM
Subject: letter from HHS
I am not looking to have this read on air or my name used. I am merely wanting to have confirmation about another caller because I believe this is a pretty big story the STATE government is not talking about.
I listen every morning, but do not call in or contact you due to having a government position and I fear losing my job.
However, on Saturday of this past week I received a letter very similar to the letter I believe his name was Doug ( Doug called Wednesday A.M.) received from HHS.
It is a letter stating one of my dependents, I only have one, no longer qualifies for my insurance. I do not have said dependent on my insurance due to cost ($1000 a month).
This dependent is on Staywell Healthy Kids which is part of KidCare Florida (Staywell nor Kidcare has contacted me in regard to this matter). I do not receive subsidy due to my income but rather pay full premium for the coverage. The letter continued on to say that the State of Florida has forwarded my dependents information to them and they have set up an account for me. All I have to do is call to finish the process.
This scares me, badly. I will not finish the process as I have found coverage elsewhere, but it is a little freaky that this has happened.
All the best,
A little freaky is right. The state of Florida is now passing personal information onto HHS, where they take the liberty of filling out an Obamacare health insurance application for you.
Is this how the Obama administration is inflating the enrollment numbers, by making it easier for people to finish the application?
Drew Steele posed this question:
“Is HHS telling the state to give them info on families with dependants NOT on family policies so they could inflate the numbers? How many other states are doing it as well?”- Drew Steele
Here is how the letter reads.
You submitted an application for healthcare coverage, or made a change to your eligibility information. Your state sent your information in a secure transaction to the Health Insurance Marketplace, because you or someone on your application does not qualify for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). You or someone on your application will likely be able to get coverage through the Marketplace, and get help paying for health coverage… We used the information from the state agency to start an application for you on Healthcare.gov. You’ll need to complete and submit this application to see if you qualify for Marketplace coverage.
To do this, you can log into your Healthcare.gov account, or if you don’t already have an account, you can create one on Healthcare.gov.
HHS urged enrollees to “confirm” information and “choose a plan before the deadline.”
For more information about how to complete the application we started for you http://www.healthcare.gov/help/statetranser
When visiting this web address, you will find the exact same text that is used in the letter, except for the asking the individual to “complete the application we started for you” part.
How many more healthcare coverage applications of unsuspecting Americans has HHS already “started” for them?
Here is the letter HHS sent this particular Floridian to notify them of their pending Obamacare application:
Do not blame me for that headline, I am simply repeating The Other McCain
When Donald Douglas posted this photo at American Power, I immediately recognized it as an ironic put-down of feminism:
Two key clues to the satirical intention:
A poster in the background showing Austrian economists — Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, et al. — signals a libertarian/individualist orientation, directly contradicting the statist/collectivist radical egalitarian worldview of feminism; and
Her breasts. A young woman with such a splendid rack would have no motive to adopt the victimhood mentality of feminism.
McCain is right, those are NOT Feminist boobs at all. And the woman’s face is not nearly angry and bitter enough to belong to a Feminist. Real Feminists are always angry, and their faces show it.
As intellectually deep as your nearest dried up mud puddle
I am confused here, I thought the Left desired tolerance? Is Mr. Robertson not able to ask a question? I mean considering that about 98 or 99% of people prefer heterosexual intercourse to, well, what Chris Hayes’ guest obviously prefers, is it that odd that Robertson might pose such a question? As for me, I have often said I do not give a rip about who you sleep with, but I do not understand Homosexuality. I mean how would a man watch Salma Hayek dance in From Dusk Till Dawn and NOT have dirty thoughts? Does asking such a question make me Homophobic? Of course not. But, of course, the aim here is not really inclusion or tolerance, it is rather to destroy freedom of speech. Not by legislation, but by intimidation. If we are afraid to speak, the Left will have won, so, therefore I stand with Robertson, and I stand against the bullies on the Left.
What? Oh, OK, I will offer, strictly for context, the Salma Hayek scene I referenced.
Fearing that many people will think they have health insurance coverage when they do not, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is “urging” insurance companies to “give consumers additional time to pay their first month’s premium and still have coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.”
Insurance companies should cover people who haven’t yet paid, in other words.
With just a few weeks to go until Obamacare takes full effect, Sebelius announced additional changes on Thursday, some that tell insurance companies how to run their business and others that “strongly” encourage insurance companies to waive their rules – on premium payments, for example.
Sebelius now says insurance companies MUST accept payments through December 31 (instead of Dec. 23) for health care coverage that begins the next day, Jan. 1.
She also is “urging” insurance companies to “give consumers additional time to pay their first month’s premium and still have coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.”
That’s because many people who have “enrolled” in Obamacare have not yet paid their premiums, which is supposed to happen for coverage to begin.
Other steps announced on Thursday:
- People enrolled in the federal Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan will be allowed to extend their coverage through Jan. 31, 2014 if they haven’t selected a new plan on the exchanges. According to HHS, “The additional month gives this vulnerable population additional time to enroll in a plan and ensure continuity of coverage.”
- HHS is “strongly encouraging” insurers to treat out-of-network providers as in-network – “to ensure continuity of care for acute episodes or if the provider was listed in their plan’s provider directory as of the date of an enrollee’s enrollment.”
- HHS is “strongly encouraging insurers to refill prescriptions covered under previous plans during January.”
“We are providing additional flexibility to consumers across the country to ensure they have access to coverage options that begin on January 1, 2014,” said Secretary Sebelius. “The Department is committed to providing consumers with the information they need to pick the coverage option that works for them and their families.”
And more changes may be coming: The administration says it is trying to “smooth this transition” by:
- Working with health insurers on options such as allowing people who sign up after December 23 to get coverage starting January 1, or sooner than February 1;
- Working with insurers and consumers to make sure they know whether their doctor or prescriptions are covered before they choose a plan, and how to get care they need during the transition (e.g., receiving a drug not covered by your plan if your doctor deems it medically necessary);
- Educating consumers who recently received cancellation notices about the possible option to extend their old policy (if the insurer agrees) or enroll in a new plan;
- Continuing outreach to consumers who began the application process through the Marketplace and experienced technical difficulties.
“HHS is committed to meeting consumers where they are in the health coverage process, helping them access and shop for quality, affordable insurance,” Sebelius said.
The insurance industry says additional changes so close to the enrollment deadline are not helpful:
“With only weeks to go before coverage begins, continued changes to the rules and guidance could exacerbate the challenges associated with helping consumers through the enrollment process,” said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of Americas Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
“Health plans will continue to do everything they can to protect consumers from potential coverage disruptions caused by the ongoing technical problems with healthcare.gov.”
In her testimony before a House panel on Wednesday, Sebelius acknowledged that “a lot of people” haven’t paid their premiums, which go directly to the insurer.
She also said people who shop for insurance on the exchanges must pay their premiums to be covered.
The rules and encouragement announced by HHS on Thursday suggest the administration also realizes that the problems with Obamacare go well beyond a dysfunctional website to the coverage itself.
Bob Laszewski says that insurance companies can’t just turn on a dime at the whim of the president and start offering old plans. Considering what’s entailed in offering plans to people, Laszewski lays it out step by step and says it would be logistically impossible for insurance companies to do as Obama suggested today because there just isn’t enough time.
Add in another 50,000 people or so who’ve signed up on the individual state exchanges and you’ve got roughly 100,000 total enrollees through all of October and 10 days of November. The program’s target for October alone was 494,620. And that figure represents what they thought would be a “slow” month, as the public gradually got up to speed on the need to sign up before December 15th. If you’re looking at the bigger picture, they’re aiming for seven million new enrollees by March 31 of next year. They’re 1.4 percent of the way there with almost 25 percent of the initial enrollment period having already elapsed.
They’re in trouble.
So far, private health plans have received enrollment data for 40,000 to 50,000 users of the federal marketplace, the people familiar with the figures said. The federal marketplace uses an industry-standard format to exchange enrollment information, known as an 834 transmission…
In some cases, insurers have reported duplicated 834s and other data-integrity problems, but the people familiar with the matter said they believed these figures reflected an accurate count of enrollments through late last week…
The initial federal numbers set for release this week are expected to show enrollment only through the end of October, so the figures are expected to be lower. Efforts to clean up the data and reduce duplications could further cull the formal count…
The administration hasn’t said whether it will release demographic data such as ages when it announces the number of enrollees.
Fearless prediction: They’re not going to release the demographic data. The only way to make these numbers look more dismal than they are is if it turns out that many, or even most, of the 100,000 who’ve enrolled are older people or people with preexisting conditions. Which, in fairness to the feds, was always likely to be the case in the first weeks after launching the exchange, even if things had gone swimmingly with the website otherwise. It stands to reason that the people most eager to get coverage are those who’ve been locked out of it or been paying higher premiums in the past. It’s one thing to make that point, though, when you’ve got 500,000 new enrollees on the books and can cite such a robust figure as proof that the “young healthies” are out there and are on their way into the risk pool. It’s another to make that point when you’ve got one-tenth that number, which means a skewed pool and circumstantial evidence that maybe the “young healthies” have now been discouraged from even trying to sign up. In fact, the Journal published a story just a week ago quoting insurers as saying the early enrollees thus far are older than they expected. If, for the reason I just gave, they were already expecting an older, sicker crop among the early enrollees, how much older and sicker must the data they’re seeing be for them to be surprised at the extent of it?
Peter Suderman says it’s time to start thinking about worst-case scenarios:
The potential problems are not confined to the near term either. Very soon, the short-term technical troubles could begin to have meaningful longer-term policy consequences. Insurers must decide what plans to offer and what rates to charge in the first half of next year. If enrollment is low, if the exchanges are still broken, and if the president and his administration are still losing credibility and popularity as a result of the rollout debacle, how will insurers react? By pulling plans from the market? By raising rates?…
This could still be turned around, perhaps even soon. But it’s time to start considering the worst-case scenarios: that the exchanges continue to malfunction, that plan cancellations go into effect, that insurers see the political winds shifting and stop playing nice with the administration, and that significant numbers of people are left stranded without coverage as a result. Rather than reforming the individual market, which was flawed but did work for some people, Obamacare will have destroyed it and left only dysfunction and chaos in its wake.
Yuval Levin said not long ago that you can’t start talking about a “death spiral” until things have actually spiraled – not just higher rates next year, in other words, but higher rates year after year as the cost of maintaining coverage becomes prohibitively expensive for more and more middle class people and they end up dropping it, leaving only older, sicker people in the pool. As Suderman notes, if low enrollment persists into the spring and the 2015 rates are set based on that data, we might have our first full downward turn in the spiral. Exit question: How long before Obama announces some sort of extension of next year’s enrollment deadline? Over/under is Friday.