Those Forked Tongue Democrats: Keeping Your Plan

Snake.jpgHow many times have we heard President Obama deliver one version or another of this standard stump speech item? “If you like your health insurance plan, you keep your health insurance plan. If you like your doctor, you keep your doctor.” And whether you’re reading the actual wording of H.R. 3200 or the various takes of analysts in the field, that seems to be true… at least for a little while. But there are some significant monkey wrenches tossed into the machinery by this essentially flawed legislation which voters should take a close look at before endorsing it. That promise of being able to “keep your plan” looks like it will have an expiration date on it for most people, and it’s not too far in the future.

HalfTrue.gifA solid, balanced, decidedly not “Librul Bashing” analysis can be found with this St. Petersburg Times PolitiFact article, where they analyze the President’s statements on this issue and find that, at best, it can be rated as “half true.” Of the many problems with this aspect of H.R. 3200, big questions surround the creation of the government monitored and regulated “exchanges” and how many companies it would apply to. The somewhat benign sounding purpose of the exchange would be to provide a virtual shopping center for individuals and “small business owners” seeking the best rates under the watchful eye of the Federal Government. But there’s a back door provision stuck in there.

Pending legislation in the House says that only individuals and small businesses of fewer than 10 employees would be able to use the exchange during the first year, and only individuals and small businesses with fewer than 20 employees in the second year. In the third year, businesses are allowed in “based on the number of full-time employees of an employer and such other considerations as the Commissioner deems appropriate.” This sounds like employers will gradually be allowed into the exchange based on size, as well as “other considerations as the (health exchange) Commissioner deems appropriate.” This obviously gives tremendous leeway to the commissioner, who is presidential appointee in charge of the health exchange. So year three becomes a question mark as to how many businesses will be allowed into the exchange.

There is no upper limit, in reality, and it’s based entirely on the whim of an official appointed by the President. Now, many of you may be saying that this isn’t a big deal because who is “allowed” in won’t matter if your employer doesn’t want to check into the program anyway, right? Not so fast there, skippy. They may not have a choice.

Take a look at the actual bill (download the PDF at that link) and go to page 16 where you will find Section 102, ironically enough called “PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT COVERAGE”

GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED.

Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:

Among the various restrictions which can hit private insurance plans is one that may sound great on the surface, but has some ominous undertones. The private plans can’t change their rates for any risk groups without being disqualified, thereby driving the employees into the government exchange.

RESTRICTIONS ON PREMIUM INCREASES.

The issuer cannot vary the percentage increase in the premium for a risk group of enrollees in specific grandfathered health insurance coverage without changing the premium for all enrollees in the same risk group at the same rate, as specified by the Commissioner.

So why would they raise their rates? Aside from the fact that continual advances in medical technology deploy increasingly expensive equipment and medicines which drive up costs, under H.R. 3200, the Federal Government will help drive up their costs by imposing additional fees on private insurers to help pay for all this. Let’s open our PDF file back up and all turn to page 828 under Section 4375.

SEC. 4375. HEALTH INSURANCE. (a) IMPOSITION OF FEE.

There is hereby imposed on each specified health insurance policy for each policy year a fee equal to the fair share per capita amount determined under section 9511(c)(1) multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the policy.

(b) LIABILITY FOR FEE.—The fee imposed by sub section (a) shall be paid by the issuer of the policy.

Before rushing in to support legislation such as H.R. 3200, I suggest you stop to ask yourself if you really want such an unlocked, open back door buried in it which can spread out government control to any number of companies of whichever size they choose. And if the government is going to drive up the costs of the insurance companies through fees and then take away your choice of “keeping your plan” because they can no longer meet the cost curve, is that really a choice to keep your current coverage at all?

The next time you go out to deliver that line you should practice keeping your teeth together, Mr. President. We can see your forked tongue poking through.

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  • elrod

    Not very convincing, really. It seems like paranoia about “the guvmint” more than a genuine worry. Maybe it needs clarification regarding appropriate increases in premium costs. But the thrust of this idea applies to those without employer-provided insurance, not the people supposedly happy with their existing health insurance. I don't see any evidence that the commissioner would punish small plans whose premiums increase if they go up no faster than everybody else.

    I'm no expert on this – as I made clear in another post. But I've learned throughout this debate to apply skepticism to both the plan in question and its critics.

  • vey9

    Business owners really don't want to keep providing health insurance because the costs have gone over the moon. At the same time, they don't want ill employee's pictures showing up in the paper in appeals for funds to pay for needed surgery.

    The employee really doesn't have much of a choice now unless he wants to go out and buy an individual policy. The employer is under no obligation (other than bad PR as mentioned above) to provide insurance and usually only does so to be able to hire decent employees, but I can tell you that during a recession, when jobs tighten, so do fringe benefits.

    No matter whether this bill passes or not, people's insurance WILL change because no business wants to end up like the late GM, a health care provider that made cars on the side and if things keep going like they are now, that is where many businesses (I'm thinking utility companies) will end up.

  • Leonidas

    We were promised a transparent, partisan gap bridging, and post-racial government.

    What did we get?

    As the Who put it:

    “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

  • Silhouette

    Here we have in the latest slant from MedMob, first of all an image of a snake. MedMob knows that Obama is going to be talking to people's morality to get them on board and hence the reason it invoked powerful imagery like a snake/the Devil in the garden of eden tempting otherwise good christians to their doom..and on Sunday too..lol

    Subliminal tricks aside [know your snakes and how they project their image onto others..lol..]

    I find it funny how at first MedMob was yelling at the top of its lungs to its would-be supporters how this public revamping of the ER-option was “too expensive!” “cumbersome!” “Will never work!!” Now we hear about how they don't stand an ice cube's chance in hell of being able to continue to provide it's clientele with the “excellent” insurance it offers because mean old Uncle Sam will limit its ability to treat them ever-so-nicer with “reasonable” rate hikes [study their profit margins under deregulated conditions and get back to me].

    Which is it hired hands? Is it that it's too expensive to overhaul the ER-option already in place or is it that we'll save money and cover more people soooooo well that y'all are shaking in yer boots? The thing is, speaking of snake imagery, you folks were the ones who ate caviar and dined out on denying legitmate premium-payers their due coverage for DECADES. Now Satan is on its knees pointing an accusing finger at Obama and crying “poor me!” “Do something!!” to his faithfully duped followers..

  • Jim_Satterfield

    In other words, if the employers decide that they don't want to stick with how they currently do things and buy into a different system and the government allows them to do so it is completely Obama's fault.

    Then you take this section of the bill:

    RESTRICTIONS ON PREMIUM INCREASES.

    The issuer cannot vary the percentage increase in the premium for a risk group of enrollees in specific grandfathered health insurance coverage without changing the premium for all enrollees in the same risk group at the same rate, as specified by the Commissioner.

    to be a complete ban on all rate increases if you want to stay qualified. But the section you quote is actually quite specific in stating that the ban is on changing rates for one sub-group within the enrollees of a particular risk group without changing the rates on all members of that risk group. This is not the same thing you are claiming, at least as I read it.

  • Davebo
  • grifter

    Suckers are meant to be taken.

  • http://www.whyweworry.com ChrisWWW

    If our country is to benefit from competition in the health care market, then the exchanges must eventually be open to everyone. Or maybe I should ask: Jazz, why do you hate the invisible hand of the market?

    Or more seriously, what's the f'ing alternative?

    You're worried about health care costs (which threaten the federal budget through medicare)? Well, something is going to have change in Washington, because the insurance companies and doctors aren't going to stop skyrocketing costs while they stand to benefit from them.

    You worried about 50 million Americans without insurance? Well how are we gonna make sure they are covered without government interference? You gonna organize the biggest charity on the planet?

    So Jazz, how do you propose to actually fix things without government intervention?

  • Leonidas

    @Davebo

    Don't read this Davebo

  • Leonidas

    @ChrisWWW

    ” You worried about 50 million Americans without insurance? Well how are we gonna make sure they are covered without government interference? You gonna organize the biggest charity on the planet?”

    Well considering your so concerned about these folk what are you going to do? I know you will call on the government to protect people by offing government healthcare, stealing money from people who work for it to pay for this program. After all we can't have the people being exploited by evil big insuarance with atronomical profits who somehow wave a magic wand and prevent wealthy liberals like George Soros from starting insurance companies from offerring reasonable insurance coverage at a price under that of the gouging big insurance companies.

    Of course there is a public option already, its called the military.

  • http://www.whyweworry.com ChrisWWW

    Leonidas,
    So… your answer is for George Soros to start a large charity, or force people to join the military. Nice. Why don't we just send them if neither of those options work out? They'll get free housing and medical care. Perfect right?

    Seriously though, many people in this country — especially now — have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Using taxes on the wealthy, who have reaped nearly all the monetary gains from our people's rising productivity, to help the unfortunate poor go to doctors is the fair and moral thing to do. WWJD?

  • groupbenefitsnyc

    I guess its easy to deliver speech for the people about promises and its really hard for them to know about it… we really needs an action from them . Group Health Insurance Plans

  • CStanley

    Chris, the question is, even if you believe that this plan is the only way to go, is it right to sell it under false pretenses? The plan is either written in such a way that the likely outcome is all people having the ability to keep their current plans if they wish to do so, or it isn't. The factcheck articles are analyzing the bill and saying that Obama's claims of reassurance on that point are not exactly true.

    If GWB sincerely believed that deposing Saddam was important to acheive other goals, was it OK for him to tell the American people that we had to do it because of the threat of WMD's?

  • http://www.whyweworry.com ChrisWWW

    CStanley,
    You're right that he shouldn't promise people will be able to stay on their current insurance in perpetuity. You're employer and insurance company can't even promise that.

    But nor should he say that people will lose their current insurance, because they won't for quite some time. I'm not sure how you explain the nuance without Republican a**holes crying wolf about everything losing their insurance and the country turning into the USSR w/ 5 year plans and death panels and on and on and on…

  • Leonidas

    CStanley

    Leonidas,
    So… your answer is for George Soros to start a large charity, or force people to join the military. Nice. Why don't we just send them if neither of those options work out? They'll get free housing and medical care. Perfect right?

    Well if the Liberal activist are so concerned why don't they pool their own money to solve the problem without stealing from other taxpayers?

    As for the military option, its just that an option, some have taken it others have not, they have an option its their choice to make, get healthcare for serving the society or not.

    Seriously though, many people in this country — especially now — have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

    Agreed, and bringing down healthcare costs is something we should be addressing. No one disagrees with that on either side of the discussion.

    Using taxes on the wealthy, who have reaped nearly all the monetary gains from our people's rising productivity, to help the unfortunate poor go to doctors is the fair and moral thing to do. WWJD?

    Ahh those EVIL RICH BASTARDS , who the top 1% of just happen to pay more income taxes than the lower 95% of taxpayers. These guys fund your kids getting an education in public schools, finance the roads you drive on, pay for the military that protects you, etc. Damn EVIL BASTARDS, how dare they

  • CStanley

    Leo- your last comment should have gone to ChrisWWW, not me.

    @ChrisWWW, on your last comment:
    Once again the blame is on the Republicans. The Dems can't possibly speak the truth because all of the people with mean signs outside the healthcare townhalls are confusing people. Um…OK.

    Have you ever stopped to consider that some of the hyperbole and fearmongering might actually be LESS effective if the Dems weren't obviously distorting what's in the bill and what the likely effects of it will be?

  • DLS

    Jazz, I was aware of this for quite a while, and I shorted at Obama's campaign circus rhetoric with its deliberately included (shhh) omission:

    “If you like your doctor…” “If you're happy with your health care …” “you can keep it.”

    That is, if it you still have it after ObamaCare takes effect, which in many cases is unlikely!

    But never mind the details like that. Continue to be starry- or dewy-eyed and good little suckers…

  • DLS

    “why don't they pool their own money to solve the problem without stealing from other taxpayers?”

    Or from Medicare, which already is a large part of the “problem” of “fear” of seniors (along with obvious threats of future curtailment or denial of care as decided by others)? Or from private insurers who remain allowed to exist but which can expect to be the object of cost-shifting (guess which way) in ObamaCare?

  • DLS

    “Suckers are meant to be taken.”

    It's a huge mistake to believe the rest of us in the USA are like the Obama Town Hall audiences. [gag]