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HHS expects 1,500 waiver requests from Obamacare annual limit requirement

On October 7, 2010, Health and Human Services submitted an Information Collection Request to the Office of Management and Budget. In its request, HHS stated that it now expects 1,500 waiver requests per year—15x its initial estimate of 100 waiver requests.

This update comes after last week's news that HHS issued 29 waivers from the new annual limit requirements to companies like McDonalds, Jack in the Box, and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Under the new rules, annual limits on benefits cannot be lower than $750,000 (from September 23, 2010 through September 22, 2011), $1.25 million (from September 23, 2011 through September 22, 2012), and $2 million (from September 23, 2012 through December 31, 2013).

Enter "mini-med" health insurance. Mini-med health insurance offers limited benefits at a limited price. For instance, the Wall Street Journal reported on September 30, 2010 that 29,500 of McDonalds' employees take advantage of their mini-med plan. They pay from $14 to $32 per week for up to between $2,000 and $10,000 of benefits per year.

But without a waiver such plans could be outlawed and hundreds of thousands of workers could find themselves without any sort of health insurance.

The news that the Obama administration now expects to receive 1,500 of these waiver requests not only shows they were clueless as to the impact of this regulation but it also begs the question, what happens when these waivers are no longer available in 2014?