More and more companies and unions are asking for Obamacare waivers to keep afloat. And the administration is understandably defensive. From the HHS Press Release:
The Affordable Care Act is designed to provide Americans with affordable, high-quality coverage options while ensuring that those who like their current coverage can keep it. Unfortunately, today, limited benefit plans, or “mini-med” plans are often the only type of insurance offered to some workers. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act will end mini-med plans when Americans will have better access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance plans that cannot use high deductibles or annual limits to limit benefits. In the meantime, the law requires insurers to phase out the use of annual dollar limits on benefits. In 2011, most plans can impose an annual limit of no less than $750,000.
Mini-med plans have lower limits than allowed under the Affordable Care Act. While mini-med plans do not provide security in the event of serious illness or accident, they are unfortunately the only option that some employers offer. In order to protect coverage for these workers, the Affordable Care Act allows these plans to apply for temporary waivers from rules restricting the size of annual limits to some group health plans and health insurance issuers.
Waivers only last for one year and are only available if the plan certifies that a waiver is necessary to prevent either a large increase in premiums or a significant decrease in access to coverage. In addition, enrollees must be informed that their plan does not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. No other provision of the Affordable Care Act is affected by these waivers: they only apply to the annual limit policy. As of today, a total of 733 waivers have been granted for 2011
Those policies won’t be available under full bore Obamacare, and hence either the companies will drop their group policies—forcing people into the private exchanges—or lose profitability trying to pay for more expensive policies authorized under the exchanges.
But this is good: Apparently a new way of repealing the law is being found by unions and the private sector! Waivers for everyone! That’s the ticket.