Republicans Respond With Horrible Plan To Fix Obamacare Problems

Republicans have been successful in creating  hysteria over the cancellation of many previous health care plans. While very few people are impacted negatively, conservatives are creating visions of millions of people losing their health care coverage. The are intentionally confusing the need to change policies, often resulting in better coverage at a lower price, with loss of health care coverage. In response to the exaggerated coverage of this problem, Barack Obama released a fix yesterday. The Republicans, with some nervous Democratic support, passed their own measure today.

There is a key difference between Obama’s response and the Republican alternative. Obama’s fix is to allow people to remain in their current plans for one year, while still encouraging people to move to the plans available in the exchanges by requiring insurance companies which sell old plans to inform consumers about how their plan differs from the new plans. Hopefully people will check this out and generally find that they are getting a better deal through the exchanges, especially if they qualify for subsidies.

The Republican plan not only allows people to keep their current plans, but allows others to purchase these plans. In some cases this might be okay. The problem is that a tremendous number of policies sold in the individual market provide terrible coverage. Many only provide limited coverage, or leave out essential benefits such as hospitalizations, still leaving subscribers at risk of bankruptcy. The worst of these will dump people from the plans should they develop medical problems leading them to use the policy. Needless to say, many of the old plans could be offered at a much lower rate than true, comprehensive insurance which will continue to pay when there are medical problems.

It is true that many affluent individuals who do not qualify for subsidies will pay more for coverage. Personally I found that policies offered on the exchange do cost more than my current policy. However the plans cover things which my current plan does not such as office calls and prescription drugs. Such benefits weren’t even available locally on the individual market when I obtained my current insurance. The new policies also offer a huge benefit not available in past plans–a guarantee that they cannot be cancelled due to developing costly medical problems in the future.

In any system there will be relative winners and losers, and Obama was wrong in downplaying this fact while selling his health care plan (even if Republicans have been far more dishonest in the healthcare debate). It is estimated that about three percent of us will wind up paying more for our health care coverage. Josh Marshall quoted one “loser” who correctly pointed out that those of us who will have to pay more are hardly losers. Here is an excerpt but it is worth reading the full post:

It takes a remarkable degree of self-absorption and sense of self-entitlement to be healthy, young(ish) and affluent—and yet consider oneself a “loser.” It’s a label I reject out of shame (no matter how much the lazy, superficial MSM want to fixate on me and my “plight”) NOT because there’s anything shameful about being a loser; the shame is in thinking oneself a loser when one is actually fortunate

I live in Louisiana where 400,000 working poor people will continue to go without health care because one man, Gov. Bobby Jindal, decided letting them have Medicaid wouldn’t be good for his future ambitions. Those 400,000 are the losers. And while my application has been stuck for a month now at the “View Eligibility Results” stage, where instead of my results I see a blank screen when I click the button, I know I will get better health insurance than the bare-bones individual policy I have now, even if I end up having to pick up the phone, or heaven forbid, send in paper. I will pay significantly more, but after years of being one serious illness from financial ruin, I will finally have security. And not only that; every time I pay my new premium, I am paying into a system that makes it possible for my fellow Americans who have not been as lucky as me—people who really have been losers pre-ACA—to finally get affordable health care.

I certainly don’t consider myself a loser in this deal either, despite having to pay more for insurance. The Affordable Care Act was not written to necessarily save affluent Americans money on insurance premiums–but it may wind up doing so in the long run if cost containment measures are successful. While insurance premiums might be higher, the important consideration is to make sure that everyone can obtain insurance which they can afford regardless of medical problems. In the past bankruptcy due to medical problems occurred even among those who had insurance at the onset of a serious medical problem. This will not continue to occur under Obamacare, which is far more significant than whether a handful of us have to pay higher insurance premiums.

For those who are concerned about the cost of plans in the exchange, I have a couple of suggestions which were previously considered but blocked by the most conservative Democrats in the Senate–the public option and a buy in for Medicare. If cost is really the greatest concern, then the most cost effective fix would be a single payer plan. Short of such changes, the most important fix will be to get the exchanges working so that more people will see their true options as opposed to listening to the Republican scare stories and lies.