I’m confident that the Obamacare Exchanges will be fixed—or at least made usable—in the next few weeks. The administration has too much at risk NOT to find a fix AND, as I noted in a previous post, there are some simple lower-tech options such as taking applications by phone, fax, mail, or online form or changing the site to allow people to move to the shopping/enroll stage BEFORE eligibility checks. However, what happens if the ACC Exchanges don’t get fixed before the March deadline for getting coverage? Well, the HHS Secretary has a option built into the law and IRS regulations. In a September 23, 2013 ruling the IRS listed the statutory exemptions from the requirement to obtain minimum essential coverage including the following: “Hardship. The Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the Affordable Insurance Exchange, has certified that you have suffered a hardship that makes you unable to obtain coverage.”
The HHS Secretary can simply rule that a person who has tried to get insurance through the Exchanges (for example, who applied by phone, paper form or on the Exchange) and was unable to enroll because the Exchange software wasn’t fully operational, is entitled to a Hardship exemption—in other words, such a person was unable to comply with the mandate because of reasons beyond their control.
Problem solved. Read the complete IRS ruling here: