Can you opt out of Obamacare? Two weeks ago, I pointed out Section 1555, one of the major chinks in PPACA's armor according to an attorney at the Goldwater Institute. Section 1555 is in the law under "Subtitle G - Miscellaneous Provisions." Since bringing this up, I've heard from some who believe that this section is limited solely to those who sell ("issue") health insurance.
Here again is Section 1555: "No individual, company, business, nonprofit entity, or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall be required to participate in any Federal health insurance program created under this Act (or any amendments made by this Act), or in any Federal health insurance program expanded by this Act (or any such amendment), and there shall be no penalty or fine imposed upon any such issuer for choosing not to participate in such programs."
I've contacted Goldwater Institute's attorney, Nick Dranius, and other attorneys for more information and opinions. I've also transcribed Mr. Dranius's webinar comments so you can read them for yourself. See "News to Know" below.
Here is a summary of what I've heard so far:
1) Because of the rush to passage, no Congressional history exists that would describe the meaning or explain the purpose of this section, thus no one is sure why it's in the law, who put it there, or what it means.
2) The language is ambiguous. There are two possible interpretations of the language:
Interpretation #1: The placement of the comma before the word "or" means that the words preceding it ("individual, company, business, nonprofit entity") are not modified by the words,"issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage."
Interpretation #2: If you disregard the placement of the comma, or otherwise disagree with the above interpretation, the entire opt-out section applies only to entities "offering group or individual health insurance coverage" -- including individuals, companies, etc.
3) Final interpretation may be left to judges if Section 1555 is used in a legal challenge.
4) Given all the mandates in the rest of the law (the totality of the law), some judges may dismiss this section, but others may not.
5) For states with health care freedom acts that challenge Obamacare in court, Section 1555's ambiguity may have to be considered and a legal interpretation made.
But regardless of the interpretation of this section, the fact remains that states, employers and individuals can opt-out of compliance -- and in some cases may even be able to avoid the penalties for doing so (read Michael Cannon in Quotes below).
Individuals and employers still have power. As Justice Roberts ruled, no one can be forced to buy insurance. Likewise, no one has to sell insurance and no one is required to provide insurance. There are penalties for refusing to buy or provide insurance, but they are significantly less than the cost of buying or providing insurance. As the price of insurance skyrockets under Obamacare, expect more and more individuals and businesses to choose penalties rather than insurance.
States can refuse in two ways. States can refuse to expand Medicaid, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. And states can refuse to establish the federally-controlled state-based exchanges. The law doesn't require it.
Refusing to cooperate -- which starves Obamacare of the dollars, machinery, and manpower needed for implementation -- may be our best protection until the law is repealed.