Keeping government out of government health care?
In pushing health care reform, President Obama has continually made two insistent claims: that the reforms will not affect those who are currently insured and will not involve government in health care. These reforms “will keep government out of health care decisions,” he has said. “If you like your plan, you will be able to keep your plan. Period.” The reforms, moreover, will be “deficit-neutral”—they won’t have any negative fiscal impact. Everything will stay the same for those who are content, and everything will change for those who aren’t.
The President’s eight “health insurance consumer protections” demonstrate the contradictions inherent in these claims. The protections are effectively eight mandates that the President intends to place on insurance companies. These mandates would, among others, prohibit them from pricing their plans according to the health risks of the consumers purchasing them, prohibit them from limiting the amount of coverage a customer receives, require that they pay in full for preventive care, and require that they renew plans in perpetuity.
Are we really expected to believe that a whole series of new mandates forcing insurance companies to absorb additional costs while preventing them from making up the losses elsewhere will have no effect on current plans–or that this does not constitute government involvement in health care decisions? Does Obama think he can repeal the law of cause and effect?
We won’t know how insurance companies will react to such demanding federal mandates until they are passed. I don’t envy the employees of those businesses who will be charged with deciding where to cut costs, which plans to change, who to let go and which branches to close. The only certainty is that Obama’s mandates will affect everyone–even those who like their current insurance plan. Cumulatively, we’ll be worse off for it.