Another Part of Obamacare Delayed Until 2015

Katie Pavlich

8/13/2013 7:50:00 AM - Katie Pavlich
We've already seen the Obamacare administration put the breaks on the employer mandate until after the 2014 midterm elections while individuals continue to suffer with insurance loss, fewer working hours and uncertainty but now, Forbes is reporting the Obamacare cost caps will also be delayed for at least a year.

First, there was the delay of Obamacare’s Medicare cuts until after the election. Then there was the delay of the law’s employer mandate. Then there was the announcement, buried in the Federal Register, that the administration would delay enforcement of a number of key eligibility requirements for the law’s health insurance subsidies, relying on the “honor system” instead. Now comes word that another costly provision of the health law—its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs—will be delayed for one more year.

Obamacare contains a blizzard of mandates and regulations that will make health insurance more costly. One of the most significant is its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs, such as co-pays and deductibles. Section 2707(b) of the Public Health Service Act, as added by Obamacare, requires that “a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage may not establish lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits for the any participant or beneficiary.” Annual limits on cost-sharing are specified by Section 1302(c) of the Affordable Care Act; in addition, starting in 2014, deductibles are limited to $2,000 per year for individual plans, and $4,000 per year for family plans.

So why the delay? Sure, caps on out of pocket costs sound great but insurance has to be paid for somehow. These cost caps result in skyrocketing premium costs, something Democrats can't afford going into the 2014 midterm elections. This is also another case of "needing more time" to set up the proper resources and tools to implement new rules properly.

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.

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.”
Democrats have already declared they are going to tout Obamacare as part of their re-election strategy in 2014. Last night on Fox News, columnist Charles Krauthammer explained that although Democrats are trying to distance themselves from the consequences of Obamacare before 2014 through delays, there's no way they can get around owning the legislation.

They have no choice. They’re already in on this. … Once you’ve passed it, once it’s yours, you own it,” he said.

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