Obamacare: You Can Get In, But Can You Get Out?
March 3, 2014 by Ben Bullard
What happens if you enroll in Obamacare and then decide somewhere down the road that you want out? It‚Äôs early days, but here‚Äôs one Florida man‚Äôs anecdote — and it‚Äôs not encouraging.
“People who signed up for coverage are finding it impossible to cancel their plans,‚ÄĚ reported Orlando‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúAndrew Robinson was looking forward to getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act,‚ÄĚ explained reporter Lori Brown. ‚ÄúHe 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.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúI immediately called back the Florida Blue and asked them to cancel the policy I just set up,‚ÄĚ he said. But this isn‚Äôt Amazon.com; it‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúI got the premium two days later, and it almost wiped out our account.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúThis is like, just taking my patience right to the end; and I am on the verge of just exploding,‚ÄĚ Robinson said.
According to Florida Blue, the company can‚Äôt cancel Robinson‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.