If Healthcare.gov Isn’t Fixed In Time

Bob Laszewski thinks the Obama administration needs a Plan B. Among his suggestions:

Encourage people to call the insurers and private exchanges serving their states directly. The administration should post those phone numbers and web addresses on the first page of Healthcare.gov. If they went directly to insurers, people would have to access multiple insurer sites to shop rather than the one-stop shopping the federal exchange would have provided. If they went to private exchanges, they would have the full shopping experience. However, in either case, they would not be able to get a subsidy by going direct as long as the insurers and private exchanges are unable to access the federal subsidy system. But they could get signed up for coverage by January 1. While this would not help people without the money to buy a policy, everyone would ultimately get the entire subsidy they are entitled to as part of their 2014 tax filing.

Build, as the very top system priority, the subsidy calculation bridge the insurers and private exchanges have been requesting for months but the administration made a lower priority well before October 1. If insurers and private exchanges have the ability to access the subsidy calculator and enroll people in the subsidy program, the administration will have built a workaround system for the interim so people who could not otherwise afford coverage would be able to get a subsidy.

Beutler agrees that backup plans are necessary:

Now obviously Obama shouldn’t contemplate doing any of this if the site really will be working by the end of the month. But if and when it becomes clear to administration officials that it won’t be ready, they’ll need to announce the failure and the workaround more or less simultaneously. The absence of a plan B would create a vacuum for congressional saboteurs, and Democrats would probably get sucked into it. Opposing all proposed solutions won’t be sustainable. And at that point Obama would have to entertain the prospect of allowing Republicans to inflict lasting damage upon his signature achievement.