Talk about March Madness.
March 31 is the deadline for signing up for Obamacare, which has made the buying and selling of health insurance one of the most complicated, deceptive disasters in the history of Big Government.
The president could always whip out his Hugo Chavez pen again at the last minute and re-write another rotten plank of his Affordable Care Act.
But as it stands now, people will have to enroll in the Obamacare by the end of this month or most of them will not be eligible to get government insurance until January of 2015.
There are exemptions, as usual. If you experience a qualifying event — a new baby, a divorce, a job loss — you’ll be able to sign up whenever you want. (Turn to Page 32,364 of your copy of the Affordable Care Act for details.)
If you fail to enroll by March 31, you’ll be subjected to a little known provision of Obamacare, Section 1984, I think it is, that says anyone who doesn’t enroll by March 31 will be rounded up, deported to Syria or shot.
OK, I’m kidding. The reason you’ve never heard of that section was because I just made it up.
But there is a provision of the Affordable Care Act that most people have probably never heard of that is just as unbelievable.
It’s “Section 1342 — Establishment of risk corridors for plans in individual and small group markets.”
Translated from governmentese, Section 1342 is designed to bail out the big insurance companies when they lose billions of dollars because they have to provide health insurance they can’t afford to provide.
To make Obamacare work (by suckering millions of gullible Americans into thinking it was free or cheap), the White House and Democrats in Congress told insurance companies they had to offer affordable policies.
But the insurance companies balked. They knew in advance they couldn’t possibly be able to offer Obamacare’s Cadillac policies at such low-low prices without soon incurring huge-huge losses.
No problemo, the generous Obamacare-givers said to the insurance companies.
“We’ll bury this little ‘risk corridor’ mumbo jumbo - Section 1342 - in the act somewhere. Congress won’t find it for years. It guarantees that the federal government will cover your Obamacare losses through 2016.
“Just don’t blab about it, please, because it’s kind of embarrassing for us progressives to be seen subsidizing Big Health Insurance.”
It turns out that behind all the high-minded B.S. about providing every American with affordable healthcare, Obamacare is simply another corporate welfare project.
Only this time it’s for the benefit of health insurance companies.
Section 1342 reminds me of those sweet deals the big New York financial companies got when they and their pals in Congress teamed up to make the economy collapse in 2007-2008.
Those “too-big-to-fail” banks — and don’t forget GM — got their federal-taxpayer bailouts at the back end. Under Obama, the bailouts for insurance companies come at the front end.
We all remember those promises from Washington that “it will never happen again.” Well, it’s going to — in a very big way. Section 1342 ultimately will cost American taxpayers tens of billions.
I’m sorry to say most Americans won’t even notice this latest example of crony capitalism. They’ll be too busy figuring out how — or where — to get the level of health care coverage they want or need.
Former New York State Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey said in the New York Post that the 1342 bailout section “is meant to hide the full failure of the president’s signature health law until after the next presidential election.”
She’s right. But it’s too late for Obama now. Because of the mess he’s made of healthcare “reform,” Democrats will be swept away by a Republican wave this November and, let’s pray, again in 2016.
By then, if Republicans don’t blow it, Obamacare will be dead on arrival and Section 1342 will be just another liberal nightmare, not a reality.
Michael Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is a syndicated columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org