For millions of Americans, the pressure of trying to sign up for The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is frequently called, suddenly lessened as the requirement of heath care for the 2014 year was abolished.
On Thursday, in a letter to the Democratic senators written by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, it was announced that those individuals and families whose policies were canceled because of Obamacare would be granted leniency for 2014, and would not have to pay the tax required for those without the correct, Obama-approved health insurance.
Those who neglect to sign up for a new plan can now be placed under an exclusive Obamacare insurance category which was originally designated for those under 30. In addition, they will qualify for the “hardship exemption” which excludes them from the tax. That exemption was originally only meant for those such as the homeless, those going through bankruptcy, or people who had been victims of domestic abuse; individuals and families that are truly insolvent. As for the “catastrophic” category for the 30-and-unders, those who lost their plans can now qualify for coverage 20% less expensive than the normal Obamacare range (though they are still more expensive than many former plans). Fewer mandates apply to this category because they were meant for a younger, healthier pool of individuals.
Insurance companies say that they are uncertain if they will be able to provide the type of coverage Obama is promising. It also appears that many smaller and medium sized insurance companies may go out of business due to their inability to keep up with the rapid changes with Obamacare.
For months now, the Obama administration has sworn up and down that there will be no exemptions for anyone, even while under the pressure of public outcry from those whose insurance canceled their plans. Now, at the 11th hour, Obama seems to be attempting to placate those who had trouble finding a plan that fit their needs and was still affordable.
This attempt seems likely to be met with more criticism than appreciation. Many Americans have already signed up for the costly plans after being told repeatedly that there was no alternative. This abolishment of the Obamacare requirements will reward those millions who delayed registering and probably would have had to pay the fine. Those responsible enough to listen to what they were being told are now being twice punished, once with the cancelation of their plans and now by having to pay the expensive premiums for healthcare they are no longer forced to have.
The fallout of this could be disastrous. In light of this new announcement, there is no reason for many who have registered to keep their new plans, knowing that they will not be penalized in taxes. And many may consider this another Obama promise unkept, after the president repeatedly stated that those who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it.
After stridently insisting that Obamacare would be better overall for Americans, Obama is now going back to rephrase himself yet again. This exemption flat out agrees that those who don’t wish to have a plan, or those who want to have a less expensive plan that doesn’t cover everything should have the right to choose so.
Many believe that issues with Obamacare will continue into 2014, and that expenses associated with these changes will continue to cost the American people. The millions who have had their Obamacare requirements abolished for 2014 will still have to jump back into the pool for 2015, meaning that this exemption will only buy them a one year reprieve.
By Marisa Corley