Obamacare Delayed? What It Could Mean for You

Obamacare has been delayed. And delayed and delayed and delayed.

Different components of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, have been pushed back by the White House in the past and most recently this last week -- with the possibility of more delays coming in the future. Here's how these multiple delays could affect you and those you know.

Past
In April, the Obama administration announced that the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, national online insurance marketplace for small employers wouldn't make the original Oct. 1 start-up date for full operations. Officials said this delay resulted from "operational challenges."

What does this delay mean to you? If you work for an organization with 50 or fewer employees in one of the 36 states not operating their own exchange, this announcement meant that your employer could use the SHOP exchange to offer health insurance -- but only one insurance plan would be available instead of a wide variety of plans as originally intended. Think Henry Ford and his comment in the early days of the automobile industry that customers could have a car in any color -- "as long as it is black."

The delay announced this week by the White House right before Thanksgiving, though, supersedes the previous delay. More about this latest pushback a little later, but first, back to the past.

September brought another delay. Federal officials intended for the HealthCare.gov website to include all information and directions in Spanish by Oct. 1. However, with the rush to launch the site on time, the Spanish version was pushed to the side.

On Nov. 22, the Obama administration announced more delays. If you're shopping for individual health insurance and need it to be effective on Jan. 1, you now have until Dec. 23 to enroll. Before the massive problems experienced with HealthCare.gov, the enrollment cutoff date for a start-of-the-year effective date was Dec. 15.

At the same time, the White House pushed back the start of open enrollment for next year. Rather than begin on Oct. 15, 2014, open enrollment will crank up on Nov. 15. The end date for open enrollment period also will be pushed back from Dec. 7, 2014, to Jan. 7, 2015.

The administration said these delays will give insurers more time to evaluate their experience from the first year of operations under the health-reform legislation. Obamacare critics suggested the delays stemmed from a desire to keep customers from seeing how much their insurance prices will increase until after the November Congressional elections.

Present
That April delay of the SHOP exchanges turned into something much more significant this week. The White House quietly announced that the small-employer marketplace won't be ready for use until a year from now. Officials said that getting the individual insurance functionality of HealthCare.gov working was more important at this point.

If you're employed by an organization with 50 or fewer employees in one of the states not operating an exchange, you won't go to the Obamacare website to buy health insurance. That doesn't mean that you can't purchase insurance, though.

Small businesses will need to go directly to insurers, agents, or brokers -- as they have done in the past. Once an employer has completed the process for offering health insurance, its employees can enroll in whatever method supported by the insurer.

If you work in one of the 14 states (plus the District of Columbia) that operate their own exchange, this latest delay doesn't apply to you. If you work for a small business opting to use the state-run exchange, you should be able to purchase health insurance through the website for the exchange.

Future?
Could there be more delays with Obamacare? Possibly. The odds of further extensions depend largely on how well the HealthCare.gov website performs in the coming weeks -- and whether insurers can process the applications received from the site and get paid what they're owed.

As for processing the applications, insurers haven't had a warm-and-fuzzy feeling about the quality of data received so far. Aetna (NYSE: AET  ) CEO Mark Bertolini stated that there was "so much wrong, you just don't know what's broken until you get a lot more of it fixed." Bertolini speculated that it could be three years before the problems are fully addressed.

Further delays could lead to chaos in the insurance markets. The recent proclamation by President Obama that insurers could continue to sell plans that had been canceled because of Obamacare's minimum benefits requirements at least for another year produced a backlash from the insurance industry. An extension of the individual mandate would probably make that criticism look mild by comparison.

Some insurers might not put up as much of a fuss. Aetna, for example, receives only 3% of its revenue from individual and small group insurance. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) , the nation's largest health insurer, has taken a cautious approach to participation in the Obamacare exchanges and likely wouldn't be affected too much.

Likewise, Cigna (NYSE: CI  ) probably wouldn't be greatly affected by more delays. The insurer participates in only five state exchanges. Cigna's management stated that the start of Obamacare wasn't a "watershed moment" for the company.

However, the predicted chaos could affect you. Some industry insiders say that even higher premiums could be a direct result of changing the rules at the last minute.

One Obamacare delay you don't want to make
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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 12:06 PM, girliegirl2012 wrote:

    This program should have never been launched without a trial run. One would think if Zukerberg could get all those people on Facebook, the President of The United States could put the best of the best to oversee this Federal Website! Inexcusable. What an embarrassment to this Administration as well as The USA.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 12:10 PM, skypilot2005 wrote:

    They’ve had how many years and millions of dollars to get the website right? This is how our health care system is going to look in 3 – 5 years as a result of Obama Care (A. C. A.). Count on it.

    The Democrats own this disaster.

    Be sure to remember this when you vote in 2014.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 12:24 PM, Bushdidit wrote:

    What does it REALLY mean? Higher premiums as one group after another gets pushed back or exempted from having to enroll. skypilot2005 has it correct! The Dems OWN this disaster and no matter what pretty bow they put on it, it's still a pile of donkey do-do!

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 12:25 PM, Gman wrote:

    These delays, as we will figure out in the future, are nothing more than, cover ups, they are designed to push unpopular aspects of the plans out beyond the original sign up stage to further Deceive and confuse Americans. I firmly believe the Obama Care web site was the same thing. Create such a distraction with the web site so as to distract the American citizen form the content of the Law. The same procedure as used in passing the law. Nancy Pelosi is quoted as saying "We had to pass the Law to find out what is in it" Lie, Distract, Deceive the three premises Obama Care is based on.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 1:15 PM, glenns45 wrote:

    Obamacare is a socialist program, high cost low care, higher deductibles and no you can't keep your Doctor. Obama is a discredited Liar.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 1:18 PM, borninkenyafools wrote:

    Beginning in early 2014 cancellation /change notices will start going out to employer based policy holders. As old employer policies are cancelled because they don't meet Obama care mandates /new policies will replace them . When that happens folks will begin to see their premium share double and their deductibles dramatically increase. Many employers finding their employee health care cost doubling will simply cut back (i.e. eliminate spouses, dependents) or simply quit providing health care benefits and pay the fine . Some less stable business will simply close up shop. If this happens before the 2104 election fewer and fewer current low information voters will vote for Democrats so it must be postponed until after the election . For Democrats to continue to be elected there must be Obama care deception .If they were upfront and said , "you will lose your current health plan, you will lose your doctor , your premiums will double and your deductibles will increase" even the least informed would have a hard time voting for them. So look for postponement of some kind .

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 1:27 PM, johnestromjr wrote:

    ObamaCare is a joke. it was 'cobbled' together by a bunch of leftist elitists who wanted no input from the other side of the aisle. They never read the bill but they ALL signed it. EVERY Democrat and not one Republican. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's famous "you'll know what's in it when we pass it" told us all that this was nothing but a naked power grab by the left to give more to their base. Trouble is Most Americans [70% +] liked their doctors and liked their plans but the bill required ALL insurance providers to contain a laundry list of coverages for EVERY American [and probably the illegals too] so NO ONE could keep their plan. That was baked in to ObamaCare. Then they went out and hired the "consultant" that was an old class mate of Michelle Obama's. That Canadian "consultant" had been FIRED by Canada but the Obama regime hired them anyway. Now few are happy with ObamaCare and find themselves without insurance OR paying far more than they use to pay for health care. And Barack Obama is proud of this achievement. What a farce.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 1:39 PM, Azzras wrote:

    It's only delayed so that Democrats will have a chance at elections next year. The people of America are going to hurt quite a bit win this disaster rolls out in force.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 2:16 PM, BillyG wrote:

    Obamacare Delayed? What It Could Mean for You

    It means the misery for America will continue under this unconstitutional law until it gets fully repealed. Why is the Muslim still in the White House. I guess it's true about his supporters having there heads buried in the sand. Crushing the middle class and redistributing the wealth, giving Iran more time to get a Nuclear Bomb and lifting sanctions so they can funnel a ton of money to the terrorist groups of their choice, hell, Kerry will probably enrich the uranium himself to ensure their success, Murdering four Americans in Benghazi when they could have been saved and then lying to cover it up, enhancing the Patriot act, signing NDAA into law. all the secrecy and lying beyond our wildest dreams, the NSA spying, and still they support and follow this UN American piece of garbage. The list goes on and on and on. Why hasn't he been impeached 10 times over already. It sure as hell isn't because he's doing a great job.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 2:33 PM, Zexmania wrote:

    We don't need a delay with Obamcare; we need a complete repeal right now!

    I wrote a blog once citing that "Obama is Evil." I researched the word evil in many reliable sources. One of the hallmarks of Evil is lying incessantly. That is what Obama is all about and all the Democrats. We definitely need to clean house in Washington of the Socialist/Democrats, and I might add the Rhino/Republicans.

    Until we get more constitutional conservatives in our govenrment, we will see more of this deception and feel more of the misery emanating from the inherrent evil that exists in Washington.

    Please remember this when you vote in 2014. And also remember in the future Governor's race in Texas to NOT vote for Wendy Davis. A vote for her is a vote for Obamacare, and we want to keep the Democrats out of this great state.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 2:35 PM, Zexmania wrote:

    BillyG....So glad you had the courage to call Obama a Muslim. That, he surely is. Also, it is clear to me that he is a marxist/communist. I never voted for him. I had done my homework.

    I wish allot of other people would have done some homework.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 2:43 PM, GhostdogWarrior wrote:

    We all realize this whole thing was just a ploy to get the risk pool off the insurance companies and onto expanded medicade where the taxpayers will be on the hook. This is the same game they did with the banksters. Yeah right.. Obama cares about those middle class "folk". LOL This is fascism at its finest. Good luck are you dipsticks that bought into this insurance lobby written plan

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 3:22 PM, 2smartforlibs wrote:

    Its good that some many see this as a disaster but you all missed the second shoe dropping. This was meant to fail plan and simple, the regime needs the low information to clammier for they to scrape this and go to single payer. That's what this is all about for 100 years the small steps have been moving here. Now there only have a few moths to forced the final step of socialism on us. the regime has to get the low information on board before the next election to take total and permanent control or it could be another 100 years of liberal lies and misdirections

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 4:04 PM, sabebrush6 wrote:

    Dec. 2013

    INSTALLING OBAMACRE.

    ███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE.

    Install delayed....please wait.

    Installation failed. Please try again. 404 error: Obamacare not found.

    EVENT "Obamacare" cannot be located. The Obamacare you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Is this the healthcare option you've been waiting years for ?

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 5:11 PM, hagar2935 wrote:

    Obamacare will destroy the economy of the USA and the healthcare system as well. People WILL die because of lack of care and the workforce of the USA will become 100% part-time.

    Remember this when you go to vote in 2014 and 2016................ if the USA is still alive by then.............

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 5:18 PM, TerrifiedCitizen wrote:

    First Lady Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate is a top executive at the company that earned the contract to build the failed Obamacare website.

    Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamacare enrollment website at Healthcare.gov. CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of a Canadian company.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 5:18 PM, lyndagroom wrote:

    For our family upcoming delays have little or no effect upon us. We are retired and receiving Social Security, Medicare and we have an excellent supplemental insurance plan.

    For our daughters family ObamaCare has been a God send. She, our son-in-law and grandson are now covered by the California exchange program. They will be paying a little of half of what they were quoted a year ago by Blue Cross.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 5:26 PM, fedupdem wrote:

    Satan’s deceitful character is seen in all those that serve him.

    This is what the Bible says about Him:

    He is evil, He is a liar, He is devious, He is scheming, He is a slanderer, He deceives individuals, He works by counterfeit miracles and He appoints false prophets.

    Does this remind you of somebody ?

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 7:33 PM, Squirrel7y6g wrote:

    Obama supporters will go hysterical over this well sourced list of 462 examples of his lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, etc. http://danfromsquirrelhill.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/obama-25...

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2013, at 10:11 PM, johnwest2 wrote:

    No word on all the security lapses the backend that was not created yet the millions and millions this screw up has cost us and then all the delays killing the insurance companies jobs, if we ever get liberals and socialist out of the white house the first thing they need to pass with Executive Order is a true lock on spending no more debates if they can not work with what they have they need to step down and some kind of a none bias rating for the president if he is not doing the job he should step down and all these laws and regulations they push thru illegally need to have consequences even to the point of jail time.. That way people like Pelosi and Reid could not destroy the economy.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2013, at 9:02 AM, SgtPepper1 wrote:

    This can't be right - all the other sycophants in the media are wetting themselves over how well the system is supposedly running!

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2013, at 10:55 AM, SLTom992 wrote:

    The truth is that Obama intends to push off the implementation of this horror for as long as possible so that the outrage doesn't hit the electorate most strongly until AFTER the mid-term elections.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2013, at 11:21 AM, frank33354 wrote:

    what it will mean to us is, we will have to listen to more lies, i mean we heard alot of lies about obamacare but with the delay, we will just have to listen to alot more.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2013, at 6:14 PM, My2Bits wrote:

    Obamacare Delayed? What It Could Mean for You.

    The delays means that you won't really know how it impacts you until literally days AFTER you have voted in November 2014.

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