Obamacare: You Can Get In, But Can You Get Out?

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What happens if you enroll in Obamacare and then decide somewhere down the road that you want out? It’s early days, but here’s one Florida man’s anecdote — and it’s not encouraging.

“People who signed up for coverage are finding it impossible to cancel their plans,” reported Orlando’s WFTL-TV last week in a feature highlighting an Orange County man who, after six weeks of effort, had not been able to extricate himself from the Federal health plan.

“Andrew Robinson was looking forward to getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act,” explained reporter Lori Brown. “He has a small publishing business and works part time, so he hasn’t had coverage. In early January, he signed up for a plan that cost nearly $300 a month. About a half hour later, he and his wife realized they could barely afford that. They quickly found a less expensive plan through Humana — for $116 a month.”

Whoops. That uneasy feeling you may have had about throwing your personal information into a bureaucratic black hole may have been well justified, if what happened to Robinson is any indication.

“I immediately called back the Florida Blue and asked them to cancel the policy I just set up,” he said. But this isn’t Amazon.com; it’s Obamacare:

[H]e quickly learned canceling Obamacare is no easy task. He says Florida Blue told him if he signed up for the other policy, his Florida Blue policy would cancel automatically.

“I got the premium two days later, and it almost wiped out our account.”

More than six weeks later, after spending 50 to 60 hours on the phone, his policy is still not canceled. And he is still waiting for the payment Florida Blue withdrew from his account to be refunded.

“This is like, just taking my patience right to the end; and I am on the verge of just exploding,” Robinson said.

According to Florida Blue, the company can’t cancel Robinson’s insurance until it receives notification from the Federal insurance marketplace that he has, in fact, obtained other insurance to take its place.

And that brings up another enforcement feature of Obamacare that, so far, has been overshadowed by the hoopla over the Internal Revenue Service’s expanded powers: The Federal health care marketplace itself can act as an Obamacare enforcer, tethering people who voluntarily approached the exchange for coverage to their initial decision for a very long time — no matter whether they later wish to exercise their own free will to drop coverage outright, or simply find a better deal somewhere else.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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