November 8, 2013

President has few options to fix health insurance cancellations problem

Persistent website problems appear to have kept most interested customers from signing up.

By Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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President Barack Obama speaks about the economy on Friday at the Port of New Orleans. The latest political problem engulfing Obama’s health care overhaul is unlikely to be resolved quickly, cleanly or completely.

The Associated Press

A man leaves Access Health CT, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange’s first insurance store, on Thursday in New Britain, Conn. The site, which people can visit to sign up for coverage, is the first in the nation.

The Associated Press

Behind the political and legal issues, a powerful economic logic is also at work.

Shifting people who already have individual coverage into the new health insurance markets under Obama’s law would bring in customers already known to insurers, reducing overall financial risks for the insurance pool.

That’s painful for those who end up paying higher premiums for upgraded policies. But it could save money for the taxpayers who are subsidizing the new coverage.

Compared with the uninsured, people with coverage are less likely to have a pent-up need for medical services. At one point, they were all prescreened for health problems.

A sizable share of the uninsured people expected to gain coverage under Obama’s law have health problems that have kept them from getting coverage. They’ll be the costly cases.

Obama sold the overhaul as a win all around. Uninsured Americans would get coverage and people who liked their insurance could keep it, he said. In hindsight, the president might have wanted to say that you could keep your plan as long as your insurer or your employer did not change it beyond limits prescribed by the government.

Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said late Friday he had issued a subpoena to Todd Park, Obama’s top adviser on technology, to appear before his committee next week. The White House has said Park is too busy trying to fix the health care website to appear.

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