Recently, President Obama apologized for the whole “You can keep your insurance” debacle. In my article here, I said that he should do something about it, and I’d be willing to guess that the majority of Americans agree with me.
Well, if the move Obama now wants to go with is allowed to go through, then he’s done something about it; and I have to say, I like it.
“Insurers can extend current plans that otherwise would be canceled into 2014, and Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan. This fix won’t solve every problem for every person, but it’s going to help a lot of people. Doing more would require work with Congress.”
So what does this mean?
Insurance companies have the option to extend their canceled policies – even if they don’t conform to the ACA – for up to one year. They are, however, required to inform the buyers of these policies that they may qualify for federal subsidies through the exchange. They also have to inform the buyer that these canceled/reinstated policies do not have all the consumer protections built-in, unlike those under the ACA. They also have to inform the buyer that they might qualify for Medicaid (depending on the state).
So by telling the insurance companies that he can’t force them to extend these policies, but leaving the choice up to them, he’s taking away the whole, “Government is taking over your insurance!” argument. What he is forcing them to do is let the buyers know that their plans are substandard to those available on the exchange, and that the plans they are so upset about losing are – for the most part – crap.
Based on these conditions, it’s probable that most insurance companies won’t take him up on it simply because it makes them look bad. Their previous customers will go to the exchange and look for insurance, and if they actually compare, they’ll see that what is now being offered is much, much better than what they used to have. Some won’t be eligible for subsidies and will be mad that they’ll have to pay higher rates. Guess who that problem then falls to: Congress. And Congress can then either fix it and make people happy (hey, a fella can dream, right?) or they can stalemate it back and forth like they do everything else.
Best case scenario would be that Congress work through it and we end up with the single-payer option that most of us wanted in the first place.
What do you think? Is Obama’s plan a good one, should he try something else, or should it be scrapped altogether and started over?
Clyde O. Watson