Private Exchanges Could Save Obamacare--If HHS Would Let Them
Appearing before Congress on Wednesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services apologized for the “debacle” of the healthcare.gov launch, and promised to fix the ailing Obamacare website.
Yet while the Obama administration scrambles to implement its secret “tech surge,” a private company in California says it has the answer to the site’s woes--if the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will relax its rules.
WorXsiteHR, a Calabasas-based benefits and human resources management company, has created its own private health insurance exchange that, when fully launched, will offer insurance policies that comply with Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) rules. CEO John Zabasky says that his company’s website, and others like it, could pick up the slack from healthcare.gov.
The problem? HHS will only allow consumers to access the Obamacare subsidies on government exchanges.
Under the current Obamacare rules, consumers can buy government-approved health insurance through healthcare.gov, state exchanges like Covered California, and private websites. However, HSS rules do not allow private exchanges to offer the government subsidies for low-income households, even though the responsibility of reporting those subsidies to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will fall on private insurers anyway.
The result is that low-income families will suffer most from the failure of the Obamacare websites. If they cannot buy insurance through the federal or state-run exchanges, they will fail to comply with Obamacare’s individual mandate and will pay a fine to the IRS. If they wish to avoid the fine, they may have to turn to private sources anyway and pay the non-subsidized price--which even many high earners are finding to be unaffordable.
“Consumers who are eligible for subsidies should be able to get them wherever they enroll and not coerced into attempting to apply for coverage through a system that is, at best, inefficient,” Zabasky told Breitbart News.
“[Private] exchanges have superior technology and there are enough of them so that the volume is manageable.” No new law would be needed, Zabasky adds: HHS would simply need to change its rules.
Currently, Zabasky says, consumers cannot access the government subsidies because they are unable to log onto the Obamacare exchanges--and “even those who are able to cannot see the correct pricing of the plans offered or the actual subsidy.” There are plans, Zabasky says, for HHS to allow private exchanges to offer the subsidies--but only “down the line,” not as part of the rollout.
The reason? It appears to be a control issue between the states and the federal government, says Zabasky.
Zabasky’s partner and WorXsiteHR President, Cesar Goldman, jokes that while it took the federal government three-and-a-half years to build a failed website, his company took “a day” to put its own private insurance exchange together. WorXsiteHR has delayed offering Obamacare plans on its exchange, he says, pending a change in HHS rules. A simple rule change would result in there being numerous companies throughout the country who could offer such exchanges, and who would help consumers comply with the mandate.
“After all, we are still a capitalist economy,” Zabasky says. “It is simply not fair to the American people to say that you must purchase coverage by the deadline through a socialized, federally controlled system, or be fined, but not give them an adequate means to do so. Public access to subsidies and qualified health plans through private exchanges solves this issue.”
After weeks of failure, HHS might be persuaded to try.