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Obamacare's Year of Delayed Deadlines

Obamacare's Year of Delayed Deadlines

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

President Obama got a lot of attention in July 2013 for deciding, without congressional approval, to give employers an additional year to comply with the Affordable Care Act, and for announcing this month that people can keep plans that don’t meet the law’s standards for two more years. Yet the president has quietly delayed, modified, or selectively enforced elements of Obamacare more than a dozen times.

April 1, 2013

The law says small businesses can give employees a menu of health plans. Instead, the White House announces that the Obamacare marketplaces, set to open on Oct. 1, won’t be able to handle so many choices and restricts employers to offering a single plan. (One of the first signs that planning for the Obamacare rollout isn’t going smoothly.)

July 2, 2013

The White House delays for one year the law’s requirement that employers provide coverage to workers.

Sept. 26, 2013

Small businesses now won’t be able to buy coverage until November.

Oct. 1, 2013 launches—and flops.

Oct. 23, 2013

The deadline to buy coverage and avoid a penalty in 2014 is pushed back to March 31 from Feb. 15.

“I want to apologize to you that the website is not working as well as it should.”—Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Oct. 29, 2013

The White House once again postpones opening day of the small business marketplace, to late November.

Nov. 14, 2013

Under fire after insurers canceled plans that didn’t meet the law’s requirements, the White House instructs states to let individuals keep their policies for another year.

Nov. 22, 2013

In an end run around the broken Obamacare website, the administration says people can enroll directly with insurance companies and still qualify for subsidies, which the law wasn’t supposed to allow.

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market.”—Karen Ignagni, CEO, America’s Health Insurance Plans

Nov. 27, 2013

The small business exchange is delayed another year.

Dec. 1, 2013

A “fixed” is relaunched.

Dec. 12, 2013

The original deadline to purchase coverage beginning on Jan. 1 is extended from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23. The White House “recommends” insurers allow people to sign up beyond that and requires them to accept payments as late as Dec. 31. Government-run high-risk insurance plans, set to end on Jan. 1 when Obamacare takes over, are extended for a month.

Dec. 18, 2013

At the request of the White House, insurers agree to accept payment for coverage as late as 10 days after policies take effecton Jan. 1.

“The president is rewriting law on a whim.”—House Speaker John Boehner

Dec. 23, 2013

Coverage deadline is extended by one day, to Dec. 24.

Dec. 24, 2013

People who started to enroll on but couldn’t complete their application by the Dec. 24 deadline are given extra time.

Jan. 14, 2014

The White House again extends high-risk insurance pools, which are now set to expire March 31.

Feb. 10, 2014

The requirement that employers with 50-99 workers provide coverage is delayed another year until 2016.

“It’s not too late for Americans to sign up and get covered, but they’ll want to do it today as they approach that March 31 deadline.”—Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, March 11

March 5, 2014

People in plans that don’t comply with Obamacare can keep renewing them as late as October 2016, avoiding a new round of cancellations during the 2014 campaign season.

March 31, 2014

The White House says it’s standing firm on one deadline: Uninsured people must choose a plan by March 31 or face fines.

Tozzi is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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