Unlike Kudlow, Networks Ignore Newest ObamaCare Delay for Those With 'Hardship'

None of the network evening news casts have yet mentioned President Obama’s delay of the individual mandate for anyone claiming "hardship," which reportedly would exempt millions from having to purchase health insurance for two more years.

As insurance industry expert Bob Laszewski put it to CNBC’s Larry Kudlow on Thursday, Obama “essentially said if you find health insurance unaffordable, you're not going to be mandated to buy it.” And as the Wall Street Journal reported last week, ObamaCare’s newest mandate delay allows for just that:

“Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you ‘believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy’ or ‘you consider other available policies unaffordable’.”

Yet the network evening news casts have failed to report this momentous new delay that would exempt millions more from having to purchase health insurance, further affecting ObamaCare’s insurance pool.

Also not mentioned was a new delay for those reporting a "hardship in obtaining insurance" where documentation for proof was optional.

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on CNBC's The Kudlow Report on Thursday, March 20:

LARRY KUDLOW: Weeks, weeks, weeks, weeks ago I wrote a column saying we ought to have a three-year moratorium on all this stuff. Well here – first we had an individual mandate moratorium that's coming up to three years, but now it seems like the President himself is taking the whole thing off the table. What do you think? 

BOB LASZEWSKI: Well, absolutely. The President had an interview with WebMD earlier this week and he essentially said if you find health insurance unaffordable, you're not going to be mandated to buy it. You're not going to pay a fine. Well, a family of four making $59,000 a year, Larry, has to pay $5,000 for health insurance. Then they're going to get an average deductible of $2,600. A family making $71,000 has to pay $6,000. And they're going to pay a deductible of $2,600 a person for that policy, on average. That's not affordable. That's why people are not signing up. So ObamaCare is not affordable. The Pesident has specifically said if you can't afford it, you are not mandated to buy it. 

KUDLOW: So this was a new exemption. All right, the first exemption, if you got canceled for your policy, you could renew it. You had to renew it by a year, I think, Bob. And then that became a couple, three years. Then that became permanent. As far as I know, permanent. Now you are saying correctly to my knowledge, this hardship exemption, which I guess is done on a cross basis, it's got 13 other exemptions, plus the one you were talking about, the 14th, which seems to cover everything imaginable. I don't understand, why is he doing this? Because he must know or his advisers must know, they are destroying this center of ObamaCare, which is the individual mandate. 

LASZEWSKI: Right. I think the administration will claim early in April that they will have enrolled 6 million people. That's where they're headed. Only about 5 million of those will pay for it based upon the conversations I've had with the carriers, and who's paying and who isn't. Based on those numbers, only about 25 percent of the people who are eligible for subsidies will sign up by March 31st. 

That means, Larry, 75 percent of the people will not sign up. Are the Democrats going to go into November finding 75 percent of the people who are eligible for subsidies, and in fact, haven't signed up? That's the political problem he's got. This thing is a hardship. It is unaffordable for most of these families. And he's not going fine them. And that's going to continue to undermine the whole program. 

KUDLOW: You know, I loved your blog, I don't know, a couple weeks ago, that in this consumer products company, all of the greatest brains from the greatest universities and the marketing people decided to, you know, design new dog food and they did all their research and all their models. The only thing is they forgot to ask the dogs. And this reminds me, you are exactly right, all the eggheads from the finest universities designed this massive central planning health care system, only they forgot to ask the consumer what they want. And now they're stuck in this. See Bob, I think this just brings down the whole thing and I want to ask you just two more points. Number one, how, what kind of shape are the insurance companies in? Okay. You are saying, 5 million people will sign up for this thing. What kind of shape are the insurance companies? Not only with the low sign-up ratio, but the adverse selection, because the young people didn't come in by more than 20 or 25 perent. So what happens to the insurance? 

LASZEWSKI: Well, the insurance companies have got a huge decision that they're going to have to make. They have to go to the Obama administration with their new rates and new health insurance plans by May for the November open enrollment at the end of this year. And these insurance executives have got a heck of a decision to make. They're seeing far fewer enrollments than they expected. They are seeing the age of the population far older. They are seeing a lot of their old customers signing up. When you separate the people who already had insurance, and just look at the number of uninsured who are signing up, it's not that many. Which means they are probably sick. When you get a very small turnout like this, it's going to be the sick people signing up first. 

So the insurance companies have got a big set of decisions to make as to what they're going to do for 2015. If they actually charged the real rates, based upon the poor number of people we've gotten, health insurance rates are going to skyrocket beyond what they are and they're already unaffordable. Or does the insurance company do its best to keep the rates down, absorb losses – remember, there is a $20 billion re-insurance fund subsidizeing insurance company losses. So do they use that, subsidize the rates another year and hope that the Obama administration can reboot that? That's the set of decisions the insurance executives have to make. 

KUDLOW: I know it's in the law. I know the re-insurance is in the law. I know all that is in the law. The risk corridors are in the law. I just tell you, Bob Laszewski, particularly in an election year, if the insurance companies, maybe through no fault of their own, if they have to get money from Uncle Sam, aka a bailout, all hell will break loose. It will become a campaign issue on the front page. ObamaCare front page. ObamaCare getting bailed out, holy cow, I can't even acknowledge that. I'm going to ask our political experts later – you are infering that that may happen, are you not? 

LASZEWSKI: Well, I don't think the insurance companies can charge the real rates here. They're going to have to rely on the $20 billion re-insurance fund, which is a legitimate fund, because when you got all these sick people coming through, whether it's 6 million or 12 million, costs were going to be a lot higher than premiums could support. Be you the problem is, there is no light at the end of the tunnel with ObamaCare with the very low enrollment we've got.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014