So one of the keystones of the Obamacare plan is the health insurance exchanges. These are the inventions, borrowed from Romneycare, that will supposedly heal the diseased health insurance market, right? They are the cure to what ails us, right?
Well guess what? In one of the most predictable developments in history, it looks like they’re not going to be ready in time:
Where was the contingency plan?
That’s what Joe Klein asks upon learning that Obamacare’s health care exchanges, a sort of government-run insurance supermarket, are going to delay implementation of most of functionality that was supposed to be available for small businesses. Instead of a choice of offerings, in many areas, they’ll basically have one. This is worse, not better, than the current markets.
Sure, the administration was surprised when so many states declined to operate their own exchanges, forcing the federal government to step in. But the administration doesn’t seem to have prepared for that possibility, even though it was an obvious threat by last year. Instead, they held open the deadline for states to declare, making themselves even later.
Savor that for a moment. When Obama’s healthcare supermarkets open, many of them will have one product on the shelves. Hugo Chavez’s supermarkets had a greater selection.
In addition to the lack of exchanges and the poor state of the exchanges, the insurance coming out of them is likely to be more expensive than the insurance available right now. I would say that’s another unintended consequence but … it’s kind of an intended consequence. The purpose of the healthcare exchanges is not to bring down the cost of healthcare. It’s to bring it up. Ezra Klein:
When people say that Obamacare will, in certain parts of the country, for certain people, increase premiums, what they mean is that something akin to the switch from Texas Inc. to Vermont LLC. Obamacare will force insurers to upgrade their products to meet a minimum level of comprehensiveness, lay down some rules limiting price discrimination against the sick and the old and the female, and then help people pay for the final product. It’s a lot like what happens if you move to an employer that offers better health insurance and helps you pay for it.
Uh, no, it really isn’t. What your employer does is voluntary. And the money comes from him, not the government.
The intent of Obamacare is to ensure that almost all Americans are covered by high-quality insurance that they can afford. To say that the law will move many Americans onto more costly insurance products is simply to restate part of that premise more negatively, and to leave out the effect of the subsidies, or the change in the underlying insurance product, is to mislead.
What Klein is admitting is that Obamacare is, at its core, a subsidy so that people can get more expensive insurance. This was not how this pile of shit was sold to us. We were told that healthcare costs were spiraling out of control, threatening the very existence of the Republic. It was implied, at least, that this was to make sure that people had a least a minimum of insurance, not a “high quality” plan. Now we’re being told that the purpose is to effectively outlaw cheap insurance. Now we’re being told that this is the equivalent of subsidizing everyone to live in a four-bedroom, two-bath house.
(I shouldn’t give them ideas.)
And then, of course, the liberals will act all shocked and surprised when healthcare utilization and costs spike again. They have never understood that people will use more of something when it is cheaper. If you give people subsidized (or God help us, free) insurance, they will go the doctor for every sniffle.
Oh, and about that “price discrimination” we’re eliminating (or, as it is known in more rational circules: charging people insurance premiums that reflect the costs they will likely incur). Guess what?
On Monday, the D.C. exchange’s executive board voted to prevent insurers from charging higher premiums to smokers than to nonsmokers — meaning nonsmokers are likely to pay modestly higher rates than if smoking surcharges were permitted. The District joins three states — Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont — that have banned tobacco surcharges on their own exchanges.
Mohammad N. Akhter, chair of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange board and a former city health director, said the authority had no hard data on what cost impact banning tobacco surcharges might have on nonsmoker premiums. But he said the vote furthers the board’s policy of encouraging broad participation in the exchange.
Emphasis mine. They don’t know what this will do to insurance premiums. They don’t give a blue fuck what this will do to insurance premiums. All they care about is getting more people onto subsidized policies.
In a statement, Akhter referred to tobacco use as a “pre-existing medical condition” and added that charging smokers more would be “in direct conflict with our efforts to help people quit smoking.”
I want you to wrap your brain around that statement. They want to get people to quit smoking … by eliminating one of the penalties for smoking! And a “pre-existing condition”? I once smoked. Tobacco is very addictive. But it isn’t leukemia. It is not a pre-existing condition; it is a pre-existing behavior. It is chosen no matter how addictive nicotine may be.
Oh yeah, this experiment in socialism is going to go JUST GREAT!