ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Rules allow employers to slash coverage with "skinny plans"
Employers Eye Bare-Bones Health Plans Under New Law
Employers are increasingly recognizing they may be able to avoid certain penalties under the federal health law by offering very limited plans that can lack key benefits such as hospital coverage.
Benefits advisers and insurance brokers—bucking a commonly held expectation that the law would broadly enrich benefits—are pitching these low-benefit plans around the country.
The idea that such plans would be allowable under the law has emerged only recently. ... Many employers and benefits experts have understood the rules to require robust insurance, covering a list of "essential" benefits such as mental-health services and a high percentage of workers' overall costs. ... The idea that such plans would be allowable under the law has emerged only recently. Some benefits advisers still feel they could face regulatory uncertainty. The law requires employers with 50 or more workers to offer coverage to their workers or pay a penalty.
Many employers and benefits experts have understood the rules to require robust insurance, covering a list of "essential" benefits such as mental-health services and a high percentage of workers' overall costs. Many employers, particularly in low-wage industries, worry about whether they—or their workers—can afford it.
But a close reading of the rules makes it clear that those mandates affect only plans sponsored by insurers that are sold to small businesses and individuals, federal officials confirm. That affects only about 30 million of the more than 160 million people with private insurance, including 19 million people covered by employers, according to a Citigroup Inc. C +0.29% report. Larger employers, generally with more than 50 workers, need cover only preventive services, without a lifetime or annual dollar-value limit, in order to avoid the across-the-workforce penalty.
Administration officials confirmed in interviews that the skinny plans, in concept, would be sufficient to avoid the across-the-workforce penalty. Several expressed surprise that employers would consider the approach.
"We wouldn't have anticipated that there'd be demand for these types of band-aid plans in 2014," said Robert Kocher, a former White House health adviser who helped shepherd the law. "Our expectation was that employers would offer high quality insurance."
Part of the problem: lawmakers left vague the definition of employer-sponsored coverage, opening the door to unexpected interpretations, say people involved in drafting the law.
Oopsie. Guess WellPoint's Liz Fowler got a little careless when she drafted the bill for Max Baucus. Or something.
NOTE Obama's last presser:
[OBAMA:] But I think the main message I want to give to the American people here is, despite all the hue and cry and “sky is falling” predictions about this stuff,if you’ve already got health insurance, then that part of Obamacare that affects you, it’s pretty much already in place. And that’s about 85 percent of the country.
And the beauty party is, he's not actually lying! He said ObamaCare was "in place." And it is, it is! And if you've got employer insurance, did he say the insurance policy wouldn't change? No, he did not. So there.