It's the last month of the campaign. Romney is getting down to telling us what his plans are. We've got a snippet on the revised (again) Romney health care plan. His current idea is to stick consumers with a larger portion of the $2.8 trillion bill. Lord knows there's a lot of problems with U.S. healthcare, but this solution only makes it more difficult for the not so well-to-do to access care.
Huffpo has a piece about Candidate Etch-A-Sketch's shift to High Deductible Health Plans paired with Health Savings Accounts (IRS pdf). This is junk insurance on steroids. These plans often offer inexplicable coverage exclusions. They feature high deductibles plus maximum out-of-pocket expenses that must meet or exceed IRS minimum levels that range $1,200 to $5,950 per year for single coverage policies and $2,400 to $12,100 a year for families. These policies fall into the category of insurance people can't afford to use.
The idea is to turn health care into a shopping good where an educated consumer ostensibly spends their health care dollars more wisely. A Rand study shows these plans encourage people to skip out or skimp on necessary care. These plans get people to delay care until the health issue can't be ignored and the care becomes more expensive to treat. HDHPs are another way to ration health care by the heft of your pocketbook. They are more of a problem than a solution.
HDHPs aren't new. HDHP's have been trash talked around here for years - with good reason. Paul Ryan, along with many Republicans, promotes HDHPs. Why Romney comes out with a "me too" statement now after his 47% comments makes little sense to me. This is only going to get him votes he already has. Pushing a type of insurance only the wealthy can effectively use just makes the point that Romney doesn't understand where most of us live. I was going to ignore this story, but it got to me. What if this is really a plan? The plan? Why do Republicans love these HDHPs?
Romney's simplistic, market driven approach ignores the risks to the patients forced into decision making they aren't trained to do in a marketplace set up to confuse them. Romney calls for greater price transparency on health care costs and pricing, but the U.S. health care delivery system is not prepared to give it. Calling for greater cost transparency won't make it so. No hospital is going to put out a menu of pricing for their services. Most health care providers are so used to cost shifting the idea of settling on one price for every service gives them the chills.
I'd like to have more more details as to exactly how you could get most doctors, hospitals and diagnostic centers to publish their prices. Just how Romney plans to get the health care market to make the move toward pricing transparency remains a mystery. I guess Romney didn't have the time to explain it all to us.
No matter. Tomorrow is a new day and another shake of the Etch-a-sketch.