Saturday, October 9, 2010

Health Care Failing Already

This story made big news this past week among those interested in the recently passed health care legislation.
Almost a million workers won’t get a consumer protection in U.S. health law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers.

Thirty companies and organizations, including Jack in the Box Inc., won’t be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees. The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn’t lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop their health insurance altogether.

Without the waivers, companies would have had to provide a minimum of $750,000 in coverage next year, increasing to $1.25 million in 2012, $2 million in 2013, and unlimited coverage in 2014.
While the reporter, Mr. Armstrong is concerned about the "consumer protections" waived, most of us are focused on the bigger issue. The new health care bill is already damaging existing coverage, making it so costly that employers and insurers feel they have no choice but to drop plans. This is a huge failure for legislation that President Obama promised us would not affect our existing coverage, or force us away from the doctors we know and trust. If the new requirements were good, no one would need any waivers or exemptions. They'd improve the system as promised, not crash it.

The above story at Bloomberg comes on the heels of this troubling story:
Major health insurance companies in California and other states have decided to stop selling policies for children rather than comply with a new federal healthcare law that bars them from rejecting youngsters with preexisting medical conditions.

Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna Inc. and others will halt new child-only policies in California, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut and elsewhere as early as Thursday when provisions of the nation's new healthcare law take effect, including a requirement that insurers cover children under age 19 regardless of their health histories.
While the LA Times tries to make this sound like the fault of the insurers, it isn't. The truth about insurance is that exists to mitigate unforeseen risk. When you force insurance companies to take on large, known expenses, they fail, leaving everyone without coverage.

Do we need a method for caring for those with preexisting conditions? Of course. It would be heartless to leave them to fend for themselves. What's clear is the tack taken by the Obamacare legislation is not the right way.

The inescapable conclusion is that the health care bill turns out to do quite the opposite of what President Obama and lawmakers said it would. It doesn't expand options, it destroys them. It doesn't improve the system, it tears it down.

A charitable take would be to say the well-intentioned efforts of our legislators turn out not to work well in practice. A less generous opinion is what many of us have held all along. This legislation was never meant to do anything its backers claimed; it was designed to sweep away what we have in the U.S. so that a socialized system can be implemented instead. It just wasn't intended to crack the system quite this fast; they'd have preferred nothing prove them liars until after the November elections.

We can only hope this destructive law can either be rolled back, or that in some inexplicable magical way, the U.S. version of socialized medicine will work better than the systems failing Canada and the United Kingdom.

1 comment:

self certified genius said...

If the LA times thinks the insurance companies are overcharging, they need only form their own health insurance company and run it however they please. They could begin with their own company by self-insuring. It seems easy enough; I wonder why they haven't done it.