…for people whose policies were cancelled due to Obamacare:
Some insightful commentary (and no, that “insightful” part is not sarcastic) by Ezra Klein, who seems bewildered:
Today, the Obama administration announced that people whose insurance plans were canceled this year will “temporarily” be exempted from the law’s individual mandate…
…[T]his puts the administration on some very difficult-to-defend ground. Normally, the individual mandate applies to anyone who can purchase qualifying insurance for less than 8 percent of their income. Either that threshold is right or it’s wrong. But it’s hard to argue that it’s right for the currently uninsured but wrong for people whose plans were canceled.
…Put more simply, Republicans will immediately begin calling for the uninsured to get this same exemption. What will the Obama administration say in response? Why are people who plans were canceled more deserving of help than people who couldn’t afford a plan in the first place?
…The same goes for the cheap catastrophic plans sold to customers under age 30 in the exchanges. A 45-year-old whose plan just got canceled can now purchase catastrophic coverage. A 45-year-old who didn’t have insurance at all can’t. Why don’t people who couldn’t afford a plan in the first place deserve the same kind of help as people whose plans were canceled?
The old inequities of the health insurance system were logical consequences of how insurance works as a business in terms of managing risk. They were not arbitrary discrimination, they reflected logical and unavoidable differences that are inherent in insurance and risk pools. The inequalities and waivers of Obamacare are government-sanctioned and politically-motivated creations of favored and unfavored classes of citizens. Probably unconstitutional as well.
[NOTE: It also would mean, as someone in the comments section of the Klein article observed, that in order to decide whether you should be penalized for noncompliance with Obamacare, the IRS would need to determine whether your insurance policy had been cancelled because of Obamacare. Good luck with that.
One more thing—ever since the cancellations began, I’ve been wondering how Obama would respond if the political reaction to them was negative enough. My leading theory (and it was something of a joke, but also sort of not a joke) was that he’d declare Obamacare to be a disaster and that the people who’d been affected would be eligible for FEMA relief. This announcement of his today and the one last night aren’t far behind.]