APRIL 9, 2014

Health Alert: You can't buy insurance until next November

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Here's something that's really odd. Let's say at the end of last year there were almost 50 million uninsured people in the United States. Averaging over all the different estimates, let's say that 5 million of them have now acquired insurance because of ObamaCare. But now it's April and the open enrollment period is over. That means that 90% of the uninsured are still uninsured and they won't be able to buy an individual insurance plan until next November.

As AP reporter Connie Cass explains:

With limited exceptions, insurers are refusing to sell to individuals after the enrollment period for HealthCare.gov and the state marketplaces. They will lock out the young and healthy as well as the sick or injured. Those who want to switch plans also are affected. The next wide-open chance to enroll comes in November for coverage in 2015.

The exceptions are generally limited to "qualifying life events" – marriage, loss of a job, etc.

Here is something you may find even more surprising: most of the uninsured don't even know the market is closed - A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation in mid-March found that 6 out of 10 people without insurance weren't aware of the marketplace deadline on March 31.

If you don't find all this a bit odd, let's review the bidding. During the 2008 presidential campaign every Democratic candidate for president from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton left no doubt about the goal of health reform: It was to achieve universal health insurance coverage. But if that was the original goal of the Affordable Care Act, why would anybody design the system so that 45 million people are precluded from buying insurance for the next six months?

Answer below the fold.

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John Goodman, President and CEO
Kellye Wright Fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis

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