Another Obamacare Disaster: Abolishes Individual Health Insurance In US Territories

I constantly debate with myself whether Obamacare is this bad on accident or if it was intended to be such a wreck. In many cases it is hard to decide how the evidence should be interpreted. If something is so bad does that prove malevolence or incompetence?

Here, at the Washington Post site, is a new piece of evidence. I’d be interested in hearing ideas about whether it counts as evidence of one or the other. Obamacare has truly terminated the sale of health insurance policies for residents of the Marianas Islands. The problem is hitting other US territories.

Because of a quirk in the Affordable Care Act’s drafting, the Northern Mariana Islands and the four other American territories are subject to some parts of the law but not others. This has messed up the individual market in the Northern Mariana Islands so badly that the one plan selling policies there told the territory’s top insurance commissioner it would not sell new plans for 2014.

In other words: Beginning Jan. 1, regulators expect it will be literally impossible for an individual to buy a new policy in the Northern Mariana Islands, and difficult in other territories.

This insane result is the consequence of some parts of the law applying to all US jurisdictions while other parts of the law only named the states and Washington, DC. The parts of the law mandating that people buy insurance and offering subsidies for such purchases don’t apply in the territories. This means that no one who is healthy and sees that policies are too expensive has any reason to buy a policy. But the law telling insurers that they have to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions does apply in the territories. Thus, the sickest people are going to rush to buy “insurance” (though it is not really insurance if the customer is already sick).

Since health insurance companies don’t want to go bankrupt they are not selling policies.

Whether or not this happened by accident, the results seem quite malevolent:

The territorial insurance regulators, on their own and in coordination with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, have asked the Obama administration for a one-year delay in the requirement that insurers accept all shoppers.

“We urge you…to provide the territories with the flexibility that they need to determine whether and how the market reforms should be applied,” an October 16 letter from the NAIC to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says.

But Health and Human Services has said previously that it doesn’t have the regulatory authority to delay a health law provision—only Congress can make that type of an alteration. In a letter this summer, the administration also pointed to the territories’ previously eager support for the health-care law which they saw as an about-face. As HHS describes it, territories initially embraced the new regulations only to later reject them.

Why should this Administration use the fact that the authorities in the U.S. territories used to believe the Obamacare propaganda and thought they were getting a great deal? That is like saying, “We fooled you before so now it is too late.”

And how is the Administration suddenly so shy about making changes in the law? They have made many changes already. It seems as if they really don’t care what happens to people in US territories.