NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 12, 2009

In promoting his health care agenda, President Obama has repeatedly reassured Americans that they can keep their existing health plans.  But a close reading of the two main health care bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines and mandates that would radically change your health care coverage, says Shawn Tully, editor at large of CNN Money.

First, you'd lose the freedom to choose what's in your plan:

  • The bills in both houses require that Americans purchase insurance through "qualified" plans offered by health care "exchanges" that would be set up in each state.
  • The rub is that the plans can't really compete based on what they offer.

Then, you'd lose the freedom to be rewarded for healthy living:

  • The bills will force young people, who typically have lower incomes than older workers, to pay far more than their actual cost, and gives older workers, who can afford to pay more, a big discount.
  • They will also ban insurers from charging differing premiums based on the health of their customers.

Next say goodbye to the freedom to choose high-deductible coverage or to keep your existing plan:

  • By requiring minimum packages, the bills would prevent patients from choosing stripped-down plans that cover only major medical expenses.
  • According to John Goodman, President, CEO and the Kellye Wright Fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis, the government could set extremely low deductibles that would eliminate HSAs…and they could do it after the bills are passed, thus, leading to the loss of the freedom to choose your doctors.

Though the bills don't specifically rule out fee-for-service plans as options, patients would be inclined to game the system, staying in the HMO while they're healthy and switching to fee-for-service when they become seriously ill; thus, killing fee-for-service in a hurry, says Goodman.

The best solution is to move to a consumer-driven system of high deductibles, no community rating, no standard benefits and cross-state shopping for bargains, says Tully.

Source: Shawn Tully, "5 Freedoms you'd lose in health care reform,", July 24, 2009.

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