Some people love the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and some people hate it.
Some people have what look like great arguments about why it will succeed or why it will fail. My bias in this area is: You never know.
Along the same lines: Actuaries, consumer advocates and others have great arguments for and against actually changing the PPACA exchange plan open-enrollment deadline dates.
The best argument for doing so is that it just seems really unfair for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health insurers, state government officials and exchange program managers to push their problems onto the shoulders of consumers who had no ability whatsoever to figure how to comment on a proposed regulation, let alone affect exchange IT work.
The best argument against changing the deadlines is that doing so could throw off actuarial projections and undermine pricing that hurts the participating health insurers. If changes that seem small but, actually, are big hurt the exchange plan issuers, that could make the PPACA exchange program less sustainable than it otherwise would be.
At some level, whether the program is nice to consumers or not may be less relevant than whether it’s possible to make the books balance. Life is not fair; it is highly sensitive to profit and loss.
But I think it seems obvious that consumers who can come up with a receipt or certified document proving that they submitted something resembling a reasonably complete exchange plan application and an estimated premium payment through HealthCare.gov, an exchange agent, some other type of in-person assister, or registered U.S. mail by Dec. 15 ought to at least have some kind of temporary gold-level coverage in place Jan. 1.
Dec. 15 is the current enrollment period deadline for consumers who want to have coverage start on New Year’s Day.