NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Every State Must Close Obamacare's Special Enrollment Loopholes to Reduce Premium Growth

March 9, 2017

NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham writes for Forbes:

So, the Republican Repeal-and-Replace Obamacare train has finally left the station. Although free-market health reformers are divided on the merits of the American Health Care Act, as introduced by the Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means Committees of the U.S. House of Representatives, no-one can deny the Republicans have kept their promise to take up health reform as their first order of legislative business.

However, new legislation takes a long time to get to the President's desk. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has the unenviable task of enforcing a law they know harms Americans. They are doing the best they can to offer relief through administrative rule-making.

On February 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed a new rule to address one reason why Obamacare premiums jumped 25 percent this year: The exchanges attract too many sick people and not enough healthy people. This is called a death spiral; and one reason it occurs is the Obama Administration allowed people to jump in and out of the exchanges too easily.

People were able to abuse Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). As with employer-based plans, health insurers in exchanges must accept applicants at any time of the year if they qualify for special enrollment. However, these qualifying events are not related to health status. Marriage, change of employment, or a long-distance move are examples of events that qualify an applicant for special enrollment

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