A day after they were caught off guard by President Obama’s proposal to prevent cancellation of insurance policies for millions of Americans, top executives of some of the biggest insurance companies emerged from a meeting at the White House on Friday, expressing mixed feelings about whether the idea could work in every state.A few weeks old but a great post about ACA from an insurance perspective (and hat tip to Maggie Maher for the links) from Colorado Health Insurance Insider:
Marsha Blackburn’s comment about people who prefer to “drink out of a red Solo cup and not a crystal stem” is not a good analogy if we’re talking about limited benefit plans. The fact is, a red Solo cup and a crystal stem both get the job done: they hold your beverage while you drink it. A better analogy would be to ask if people prefer to drink out a sieve. Because if you’re looking for something to hold your drink, that’s what a limited benefit plan is.As for Obama's "fix", some perspective from Wright on Health blog:
Then again, Marsha Blackburn’s primary concern seems to be getting rid of the ACA. That doesn’t mean that she really understands the finer points of the law, only that she hates it. Possibly more than she loves her country. ...
All in all, there’s a lot of hype about policy cancellations. Some valid, some not. Everyone will have access to health insurance in the future. Some will pay more for it than they do now. The people with the lowest incomes will generally pay less. But truly awful policies that don’t provide any sort of safety net are going away. That’s a good thing. And people with pre-existing conditions will be able to get coverage. That’s another good thing.
The President, by his own admission, did “fumble the ball” on the rollout of the major elements of health reform implementation. Not only is healthcare.gov not functioning as it should, but people in the individual market are having their health insurance coverage cancelled–despite repeated assurances that if they liked their current coverage, they could keep it.More politics and policy below the fold.
While that is absolutely a problem, it needs to be put into perspective. For each person in this country who is in the individual market and therefore at risk of having their insurance plan cancelled on them, there are three people who are–and have been–uninsured. It strikes me as somewhat ironic that while we are rightly upset about the broken promises of the Obama administration, we are not three times as outraged by the reality that has confronted the uninsured for decades. ...
What does this mean for you? Well, for about 95% of Americans, it doesn’t mean anything. You weren’t having your insurance coverage cancelled, and you can’t buy one of the non-compliant plans even if insurers and state regulatory agencies decide to permit them back on the market. But, for the 5% of Americans who do find themselves affected or potentially affected by this aspect of the ACA, it is important to pay attention. If a non-compliant plan once again becomes available to you in your state, carefully consider if the benefits you’ll lose are worth the savings you’ll gain.
For about 5% of the population, President Obama’s promise “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” was clearly off the mark. They like it and they can’t keep it—or they will have to pay more for it. Their anger and sense of betrayal are being used by opponents of the Affordable Care Act to discredit the President and highlight the law’s alleged shortcomings. But let’s be honest; how great was that insurance in the first place? Sure it might have been cheap, but many policyholders were one illness or accident away from crushing bills and even bankruptcy. And is it worth it to allow insurers to keep selling these policies to cherry-picked healthy people, even if it threatens to raise premiums for many of the 40 million uninsured people who have been priced out of the individual market because of their health status, age or gender?Sally Kohn:
The answer, for at least another year, is “yes.” Under pressure from anxious Democrats in Congress—including some like Sen. Mary Landrieu (LA) who are facing tough reelection battles—Obama today proposed an administrative fix to the ACA that would let insurance companies renew plans through 2014 that do not meet the benefit standards of the health care law. State insurance commissioners and insurance companies will now make the final decision on whether they will renew cancelled policies on the individual market. Insurers would have to notify plan subscribers of alternative plans they could purchase through the exchanges, as well any benefits they would miss out on by staying with their existing policy. As the President put it: “the Affordable Care Act is not going to be the reason why these companies are canceling your plan.”
The 106,000 enrollments are well below the 500,000 the White House had originally projected for this period before launch of the exchanges. The brouhaha over canceled insurance plans has muddied an otherwise positive law. But all of the above should be put in a broader context —the context of enrollment in past comparable insurance systems, the context of what health insurance was like before the Affordable Care Act passed, and the context of its opponents' repeated lies meant to distort and destroy Obamacare.And in non-health care news:
So, here are three handy charts to help you understand the reality of Obamacare and separate fact from fear-mongering.
George Will, ignoring how strong a candidate Hillary actually is:
Come 2016, Clinton may be the one thing no successful candidate can be, and something [Elizabeth] Warren (or some other avatar of what Howard Dean in 2003 called “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party”) would not be: boring. The social scientist Robert Nisbet called boredom “one of the most insistent and universal” forces that has shaped human behavior. It still is. So, all those who today regard Clinton’s nomination as it was regarded in 2008 — as a foregone conclusion — should ask themselves: When was the last time presidential politics was as predictable as they think it has become?It's a great reminder of the strength of his analysis. Does anyone think it's 2008? Hillary is a much stronger candidate now than then, and while it's way too early to conclude anything, the "tear her down' industry has been pushing this stuff since 1992, the real year Will is stuck in.
But a story on Tuesday illustrated why Republicans probably won’t be able to take advantage of this opening. Before the shutdown and the Obamacare collapse eclipsed everything else, this fall’s big event was supposed to be the push for corporate tax reform. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan has been beavering away on the Republican plan for months and was preparing to unveil it. But as Roxana Tiron and Richard Rubin of Bloomberg News report, “Republican leaders are worried about political damage if the party’s top tax writer releases a plan to revise the US tax code and limit popular breaks.” So they’re trying to stop it.Green and others who know politics but nothing about health care policy nonetheless feel free to pontificate about what will happen with complete certainty. However, as the health care web site improves, and more and more uninsured get coverage, and folks find out how it works for themselves (and not reporters), things can and will change on the perception front even if they never return to what they were. The Republican inability to govern? That's structural and will not change.
Let that one sink in for a moment: Republican leaders are trying to block their own tax-reform plan for fear that it will prove too extreme and inflict further damage on the party. And when they do work up the courage to put forward aggressive legislation, they frequently discover that they cannot muster enough Republican support to pass it. That has often been the case when Republican leaders have attempted to implement their own budget. Over the summer, the House farm bill failed for this reason, and so did a housing and transportation bill a month later. Usually, when Congress is divided, the parties pass their agenda through the chamber they control and the hard part is reconciling the two. What House Republicans have demonstrated is that they can’t enact an agenda even when they’re in charge.
Woven together, these threads tell the story of Washington’s ongoing ineptitude: Americans are fast losing faith in the president, his party, and his signature policy achievement. But while they’re open to the idea of handing power to the opposition, Republicans are busy demonstrating that they have no idea how to govern.