Obama Surrenders: White House working with insurers to bypass Healthcare.gov


The Obama administration said Monday it is willing to grant a key concession on the health-care law to big insurers under which they could directly sign up for coverage millions of Americans who qualify for tax credits.

The administration said it was working through technical obstacles with the insurers. If completed, the plan could help some people bypass troubled health-insurance websites including HealthCare.gov.

At the moment people can go straight to an insurer to buy coverage that meets the same standards as policies sold on health-insurance exchanges such as HealthCare.gov. But if customers are eligible for subsidies toward the cost of their premiums, they can get those subsidies only by purchasing their coverage on the exchanges, where plans can be compared side by side.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday that the administration is "working to set up direct enrollment through insurance companies so that Americans could choose to enroll directly through the insurance company."

The decision comes as the administration is reckoning with the ongoing problems of the HealthCare.gov website. That site is serving 36 states that declined to run their own exchanges. The administration has set a goal of the site working for most users by Nov. 30, but that leaves a short window of time--around two weeks--for people to sign up for coverage that can take effect Jan. 1.