New exemptions to ObamaCare mandate created as costs prevent treatment

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There are new exemptions to ObamaCare’s individual mandate, part of a number of changes for the Trump administration announced on Monday.

According to a report from The Hill, the administration created the exemptions in regulations for ObamaCare marketplaces next year.

The mandate changes would exempt people from having to pay the penalty for lacking insurance if they live in a county with no insurers offering coverage or only one insurer, or if the only insurance plans available cover abortions, in violation of their beliefs.

The mandate has been repealed by Congress for everyone starting Jan. 1, 2019, but this change would provide new exemptions while it is still in effect this year.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said on a call with reporters that the administration is “intently looking for ways within the law to alleviate its negative effects,” until Congress is able to more broadly dismantle ObamaCare. 

Other changes announced Monday include:

  • additional flexibility for states to change the Essential Health Benefits,
  • the list of health services that insurance plans must cover,
  • stepping up eligibility checks to make sure people are supposed to receive financial assistance under the law.

The changes come as more people are complaining about the cost of insurance coverage within the ObamaCare marketplace. In an opinion piece for The Washington Examiner, Justin Haskins, executive editor at The Heartland Institute, says ObamaCare is so expensive, patients may not be seeking medical treatment.

Haskins writes: In a recent survey by the West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago, 47 percent of those surveyed said they chose within the past 12 months not to see a doctor or dentist for a routine checkup or dental cleaning because of the high costs associated with healthcare. About 44 percent said they, on at least one occasion, avoided seeing a doctor when they were sick or injured because of cost concerns. About 40 percent said they skipped a “recommended medical test or treatment.”

Avoidance was particularly high for younger adults. More than half (53 percent) of respondents 18–44 years old said they chose to skip going to the doctor when sick because of high healthcare costs.

Health insurance premiums increased sharply in 2018, driven in large part by Obamacare’s anti-free-market penalties, mandates, and regulations. Cost increases for health insurance plans sold on Obamacare exchanges were particularly high

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