A large majority of Americans are calling out the Obama administration’s decision last year to delay Obamacare enrollment until after midterm elections as an overtly political move, according to a new poll from nonpartisan health research firm HealthPocket.
Close to a year ago, the Obama administration pushed back the start date for Obamacare’s open enrollment period by one month, from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15, conveniently after the midterm elections next week. The public — liberals and conservatives alike — aren’t buying the claim that it wasn’t a political decision. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed nationwide think it was a political move; just 37 percent disagree.
The administration claimed last November, when it revealed the change, that it wanted to give insurers more time after the first enrollment period to analyze claims and decide on 2015 premium rates. Officials emphasized that they wanted to give insurers every opportunity to keep premium rates down.
But the first enrollment period’s dates were static — insurers’ time to decide on 2015 rates never changed, just the administration’s opinion on how long was appropriate.
“Despite the regions, and the differences in political leanings, you still saw a lot of consistency in the response rates,” HealthPocket’s head of research and data Kev Coleman, told The Daily Caller. “This was something that regardless of whether or not it was a blue state area or a red state area, Americans seem to share the same perspective on it.”
“The question is whether or not that’s relevant to them,” Coleman continued. “Are they fine with the political motive?”
Moving next year’s launch until after midterms would avoid incurring voter wrath if the website still faced problems. It served the Obama administration doubly well, because it also allowed them to move their release of premium rate hikes until after the elections. The Obama administration will still have final premium information for next year’s exchanges before election day, but it’s promised not to release that information until the week after. (RELATED: Admin Won’t Release Final HealthCare.gov Premiums Until After Elections)
“HealthPocket is a nonpartisan firm, but we’re also consumer advocates,” Coleman said. “We prefer transparency. Why not make it public? Why not allow consumers to see [the rates] and respond to it, whether it’s positively or negatively?”
Premium hikes would be especially bad news to release weeks before midterms elections, as a number of Democratic incumbents in tough races are struggling to defend their votes for Obamacare.
HealthPocket also released an analysis of government data earlier this week that discovered that when Obamacare regulations took effect in 2014, customers in the individual health insurance market were hit with double-digit rate increases — including men and women, young adults and seniors. (RELATED: Obamacare Year One: 78 Percent Premium Hikes)