Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle summarizes the conference call for journalists yesterday afternoon with Kathleen Sebelius and other members of the Obamacare team in which the powers-that-be announced further decrees and encouragements to smooth the pending implementation of Obamacare on January 1:
· Insurers will be required to accept payment for policies beginning Jan. 1 as late as Dec. 31, and they will be “encouraged” to accept payment after that. In response to a question, HHS says that at least one insurer, Aetna Inc., has agreed to take payments as late as Jan. 8.
· The high-risk pools that were established to cover people with pre-existing conditions in the transition will be extended through the end of January for people who haven’t already selected a plan.
· Insurers are being “strongly encouraged” to treat out-of-network doctors as in-network doctors for acute-care episodes, or if the provider was listed in the plan’s provider directory when the patient enrolled.
· Insurers are also being “strongly encouraged” to refill prescriptions in the month of January, even if they aren’t covered under the new plan, if they were covered under the patient’s old plan.
The Hill’s Jonathan Easley also reports on the call here. HHS has posted an update here on what it modestly describes as its “steps to ensure Americans signing up through the Marketplace have coverage and access to the care they need on January 1.”
McArdle also notes this:
When I read the HHS memo on the call I thought the administration was worried about people who had insurance losing their coverage or finding out that the doctors and treatments they use aren’t covered under their new plans. And indeed, the first question came from Bloomberg’s own Alex Wayne, who asked whether it was now possible that the net coverage numbers would be lower in January 2014 than they were this year. HHS hemmed and hawed. Wayne pressed them, asking whether they were confident that coverage was going to increase. Julie Bataille finally answered that they were confident millions more people were going to have access to affordable coverage — not have it, mind you, just have access to it, in the same way that I have access to a sousaphone and a week on the beach in Maui.
Hey, it only hurts when I laugh.