Why the Administration Will Think Twice Before Delaying the Individual Mandate

It has been widely reported that people are having trouble buying healthcare through the online exchanges due to technical difficulties, a situation President Obama addressed from the Rose Garden on Monday, saying “no one is madder than me” and encouraging people to try to sign up by telephone rather than online.  Ezra Klein calls the rollout, so far, a “failure” but says the real question is how long it takes for the exchanges to get running smoothly.

Klein is right about that: it would seem unfair to impose a tax on someone for failing to obtain insurance if they tried but were unable to do so due to problems with the government-run website.  Yet that is what the well-known individual mandate codified at 26 U.S.C. § 5000A(b)(1) says: a taxpayer who goes a month (or more) without health insurance after the effective date must pay a tax penalty.  There is no exception for taxpayers who tried and failed to get health insurance through the exchanges.  Or is there?

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Another Wrinkle in Exchange Rollout? Private Sites Attempting to Lure Shoppers Looking for Exchanges

Yesterday saw two reports—perhaps the first of many—discussing the emergence of an additional wrinkle in the rollout of the health exchanges: private websites attempting to lure shoppers away from the government exchanges with websites that look and sound like the real thing.

According to an article posted by WMUR New Hampshire, the state insurance commissioner has issued a cease-and-desist letter to the owner of one website, newhampshirehealthexchange.com, that is allegedly trying to take advantage of shoppers hoping to acquire insurance through the real exchange.  New Hampshire’s not the only state dealing with this sort of issue.

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