Contemplating Health Care Reform

Monday, August 10, 2009

Will you be able to keep your health care plan?

There is much doubt about the claim that everyone will be able to retain their current health coverage under the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. ABC news recently asked this question:

What Does the President’s Promise "You'll Be Able to Keep Your Health Care Plan, Period," Really Mean?

The fact that this question needs to be asked in the first place is a giant red flag. It means that with this legislation, government may have taken from you the right to make a decision as personal as how much and what sort of health insurance coverage you must have .

In fact, upon closer examination, that's exactly what this legislation does. The current proposal is structured to “rig the game in the government’s favor,” i.e. create an uneven playing field, so that the few private insurance providers currently qualifying under the new legislation will be driven out of the market altogether over time. (see previous post)

Page 72 (Section 201) of the House proposal establishes a Health Insurance Exchange (under the purview of a Health Commissioner), which will offer qualifying private insurance plan coverage, and a public option. No other options will be available and no new plans may be written that don't conform to the Health Care Exchange government mandates. If your current insurance company so much as needs to raise premiums to cover additional costs, you will be pushed into the Health Care Exchange.

Further, one of the functions of the Health Commissioner will be to evaluate non-participating individuals and employers to assess potential “improvements:"

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Commissioner shall conduct a study of access to the Health Insurance Exchange for individuals and for employers, including individuals and employers who are not eligible and enrolled in Exchange-participating health benefits plans. The goal of the study is to determine if there are significant groups and types of individuals and employers who are not Exchange eligible individuals or employers, but who would have improved benefits and affordability if made eligible for coverage in the Exchange.

(p. 83)

The language is vague enough to be troubling. The legislation is written in such a way as to give regulators and commissioners the ability to mold the details of the legislation behind closed doors and without the prying eyes of the public. "Benefits" and "affordability" will not be defined by you, but by the commission and you will be forced to comply with the commission's findings by purchasing policies the commission (not you) deems favourable to you.

This effectively means that if you are not initially covered by any of these reforms, it is very possible you will be at some date in the not too distant future. You will likely eventually be forced to join, either on the employer or consumer side, the Health Insurance Exchange.

So even if the statement “You can keep your health care plan” is nominally true on the first day the legislation is in force, the economics of the current proposal, as well as various other sub-requirements and the ability to craft the details after the legislation is passed, virtually guarantee that the statement will be shown to be false.

1 comment:

  1. When everyone pays the same, it's a tax, not insurance.

    So you cannot possibly keep "your" insurance when "community rating" takes over the financing.