@BarackObama ‘extends’ application ‘deadline’ to December 23rd. #obamacare

This is actually not going to work, you know.

The Obama administration on Friday offered an extension of the current ObamaCare enrollment period — though not exactly what Republicans were seeking.

Federal health officials announced Friday afternoon that they’d give people another eight days this year to enroll in an insurance policy and still get covered by Jan. 1. Previously, people had to enroll by Dec. 15 to avoid any break in coverage and have insurance at the start of 2014. The administration, amid lingering problems with the main ObamaCare website, is now pushing that deadline to Dec. 23.

A couple of points: first off, that two week thing? Yeah, that’s not exactly a statutory thing: it’s just a good rule of thumb for how it can take for companies to process an application. Check with Megan McArdle, if you don’t believe me; but the point is that you now are asking the entire system to do in one week what normally would take two.  Except that you’re not, because here’s the second point: December 23rd?

OK. Let’s assume that John Q. Citizen gets in his application at 4:59 PM Eastern time, or whatever ‘just before the end of business hours’ is in this context, on Monday (days of the week are important in this discussion), December 23rd.  Plop!  It lands in either a digital or, and God help us, physical in-box.  The next day, the in-box gets attacked by workers… until noon or so, because it’s Tuesday, December 24th.  You know.  Christmas Eve.  So there’s the in-box, waiting.  Waiting December 24th, and then waiting Wednesday, December 25th, which is Christmas Day.  Let us assume – to be sporting about it – that the person who owns the in-box will be, like Bob Cratchett, in all the earlier the next day.  That gives the in-box opportunities to get emptied for the 26th (Thursday) and 27th (Friday)… and then it’s the weekend. So anything that doesn’t get done by then will have to wait until December 30th (Monday).  Anything that doesn’t get done then?  Well.  December 31st is New Year’s Eve.

:leaning forward: If you think that Barack Obama has the ability to make anybody do any effective work past noon on New Year’s Eve, then I do not have a bridge to sell you.  But only because fleecing you would be no sport at all.

In short: the insurers don’t have a week (eight days, technically) to do what normally takes two: they have three full days and two half-days to do it, and that’s the most charitable conclusion.  The most likely conclusion is that anybody who gets an application in by December 23rd will be lucky if anybody looks at it before January 2nd.  Which means that there will be gaps in coverage. Hopefully*, these gaps will be only a small problem.  Unless the insurers get sticky about somebody having technically no coverage while involved in an accident.  Or unless the initial application is rejected for being improperly submitted, or sent back for review, or determined to be based on flawed information.  Or unless the coverage that people thought that they were getting ends up not actually covering the doctor or procedure that they accessed during the gap period.  Little things like that.

Best look both ways crossing the street…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Pro-tip: people hate to hear the word ‘hopefully’ in anything involving their healthcare.  ANYTHING.

13 thoughts on “@BarackObama ‘extends’ application ‘deadline’ to December 23rd. #obamacare”

  1. This Christmas thing you speak of, is not Party approved holiday, no? Work will be done that day, comrade. Or the Wreckers will face the consequences!

  2. Between this and Democrats encouraging their rank and file to argue with relatives at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’d say that they have no idea how far they’re going to dig this hole of people hating them.

      1. Define family. The strength of the institution varies with the society and probably with the individual.
        Familial amoralism, where no one outside the family counts, looks pretty extreme from our cultural perspective.
        Because we are, or at least were, a high trust society, we could use things like contracts and corporations to carry out business between people who aren’t blood related.
        However, we don’t and probably won’t have a way to raise children, including the earliest education, that works as well as family. Thus why populations in our society with particularly weak families are not substantially competitive with those portions that hadn’t wrecked theirs yet.
        Where family is very important, marriage, including children blood related to both sides, has traditionally been a way to allow those who hadn’t been blood related to conduct business.
        DINKs, and those who don’t hold with marriage, fit better ideologically with the left, which might mean that there is some sorting for people who value family slightly less.
        Combine that, some other factors, the Leninist organizational weapon and you can get ‘Hey, let us do the same thing we do to every other institution to family.’

  3. This isn’t as stupid as it looks. There are several phases to the insurance application process – the application itself, underwriting, etc., but the one that matters here is called “binding”. The policy is bound – provisionally in force – just as soon as you hand over a signed, completed application and the first premium payment. Since this is guaranteed issue, none of the usual complicating factors come into play. Technically, they could extend the deadline to December 31 as far as the insured – the voters – are concerned, and it wouldn’t make any ultimate difference.

    1. The question is, what happens when something like what happened in Washington state happens? They had to tell 8K people that their insurance premiums were much larger than originally promised.

        1. No, coverage only begins on the specified start date if payment is received.

          No pay, no coverage. Period.

          I just went through the hassle of choosing my first Medigap plan enrollment for a 12/01/2013 start date. I have paid and already have the card in my wallet but no coverage until the 1st.

          The person I dealt with made it very clear; there is no grace period on the first payment in a new policy enrollment. (I guess we old people get easily confused as she repeated this several times.)

          Once you’re covered by the policy then there is a grace period for a late payment which varies by state.

    2. ” The policy is bound – provisionally in force – just as soon as you hand over a signed, completed application and the first premium payment.”

      It is bound when they receive the first premium payment.

      Define “receive.”

      Now check out how they define it in the statute.

      You might be surprised.

      1. Well, in the private market in Texas, it’s when you 1. physically hand the check to the agent or 2. put it in the mail. That’s right, put it in the mail. When the insurance company actually receives it is irrelevant. Which is why I used the term “hand over”.

        Here’s what they cannot do as a matter of decades-old established contract law: they CANNOT make the execution of the contract contingent on when they decide to PROCESS your payment. They can try, but the first lawsuit will blow that up with ease. And if it’s a private insurer that tries it, whether it’s through the exchange or not, they’ll pay massive punitive damages.

        I’m not defending Obamacare at all. I’m just saying this isn’t going to be a particularly effective line of attack.

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