Red Flags that the Pending Healthcare Reform May not be a Good Idea
(… in addition to the Constitutional issue – i.e., the legality of compelling everyone to purchase health insurance.)
Much of the disagreement about whether the Democrats’ health care reform should proceed centers around its long term consequences. Supporters of the pending reform don’t see any problems long range if the bill passes. Opponents point to the inevitable consequences of compelling insurance companies to provide essentially open-ended coverage while demanding that they not raise premiums too high.
Okay, set that aside for a separate discussion. Here are some more immediate warning signs.
1. Congress has exempted itself from it. If better/more expensive health insurance policies are Cadillac plans, Congress has a Rolls Royce. And it stays right in their driveways even if they themselves pass health care reform “for” everyone else. If the proposed reform is such a good idea, why?
2. We start paying for it right away but the benefits don’t begin for four years. (Side issue, which it clearly is for proponents: what happens to all of those sick, uninsured people in the meantime?) How viable is a proposed program if the required revenue needs a four year running start?
3. $500 billion cut from Medicare. Proponents have stopped even pretending that this will come from a crack down on waste, fraud and abuse. Setting aside the disgrace and misdirected priority of depriving seniors of this care, isn’t a proposed program patently non-viable if another program has to be gutted to fund it?
4. Let’s see if we understand the scenario. No insurance company can refuse anyone coverage. The penalty for an individual not obtaining coverage is $800. So wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper for the healthy person (many millions of them) to not buy coverage, pay the penalty rather than the premiums year after year and then simply enroll as soon as a health issue crops up? Actually, we don’t have to wonder. This is exactly the approach New York took.
New York’s “reforms” meant that people could literally wait until they had an accident or illness before buying a policy — changes that more than doubled insurance costs in the state, according to the Empire State Center for New York State Policy.
Premiums shot up so far and fast that healthy customers dropped insurance altogether — with the number of people buying individual policies plummeting from 750,000 in 1994 to 36,000 now.
It’s tough to come to grips with the longer term implications of the proposed reform to health care when we are asked to disregard such serious pitfalls up front.