In a mostly symbolic move designed to stem Democratic losses in the 2014 and 2016 elections, the Obama administration has now given the green light to individuals and businesses to "keep it if you like it" — their "substandard" health insurance plans — until October 2017, providing the states and the insurance companies go along.

Administration officials discussing the move all spoke anonymously. Said one senior official about how many policyholders will be affected: "The expectation is that this will be a very small number of people."

"The Obama administration's announcement today that it will continue to allow insurers to sell health care plans that don't meet Obamacare minimum coverage requirements is not only another reminder of the President's broken promise that you can keep your plan if you like it, but represents a desperate move to protect vulnerable Democrats in national elections later this year," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

The last day to renew substandard policies is now Oct. 1, 2016, meaning the last such policy will expire in October 2017, three years after the Obamacare Marketplaces rolled out.