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White House Delays Second Round of Obamacare Signups...Until After the 2014 Midterm Elections


"Death spiral."

AFP phot/Brendan Smialowski

The White House has moved the start of next year’s open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15 -- after the 2014 midterm elections.

The Obama administration said the move will give insurers more time to prepare for possibly higher premiums, but the botched rollout of the health care law and its terrible polling numbers could certainly have something to do with the decision.

The Department of Health and Human Services also added one week to the open enrollment period, extending it to eight weeks instead of seven. The postponement doesn’t apply to this coverage year, which begins Jan. 1, 2014, CNN reported.

The postponement "will give insurers the benefit of more time to evaluate their experiences during the 2014 plan year and allow them to take into account those who may enroll late, including young adults, before setting 2015 rates," an official speaking on the condition of anonymity told CNN.

The success of the law requires that younger consumers enroll in the exchanges. However, several analysts are concerned that won't happen, and even if younger consumers do try to enroll, the federal site remains mostly inoperable.

The White House needs to either prevent or prepare consumers for premium spikes if it wants to see the law succeed, Ana Gupte, a Leerink Swann & Co. analyst, told Bloomberg.

“The death of this law would be for health insurance companies to price policies for 2015 in a way that premiums skyrocket,” Gupte said. “At that point, it’s a death spiral and it’s over. So (the president) needs to do something.”

Aside from possibly buying time for vulnerable Democrats in the 2014 midterms, the White House hopes the postponement will give insurers more time to gradually introduce premium increases where applicable.

The implementation of the health care law has so far hit many Americans with cancellations and rate increases, and the administration likely hopes to avoid a repeat of this right before the midterm elections.

"All we ever heard about Obamacare is that it would lower our deductibles and premiums," Minnesota resident Jennifer Slafter, 40, told CNN. "That's just not what's happened."

Slafter said the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan offered through the Obamacare exchange she and her husband are considering costs $1,087 a month with a $6,000 deductible, while a Medica plan was $877 a month with a $12,700 deductible.

Both quotes are far more expensive that their current plan.


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