Editorial: Hoppy Kercheval: The Obamacare false promise
10/30/2013 - WV Metro News
CHARLESTON - In hindsight, it was a peculiar promise to make.
“If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep it,” the President said, in one form or another, from 2009 to 2012 as he spoke in support of the Affordable Care Act.
That’s like predicting something will never happen, which seems to increase the odds that it will.
And we’re now finding out that the President delivered the promise even though the Administration knew full well that individual policies would be changing.
NBC News reported this week that most of the estimated 14-million customers who have individual policies will see their coverage altered. Language predicting the shift for up to two-thirds of the policy holders was included in the Obamacare regulations adopted in July 2010.
Obamacare requires insurance to include certain benefits that many individual policies currently do not. Word is starting to get out now because insurance companies are notifying their customers that their policies are being discontinued.
It is important to note, however, that some customers will end up with better coverage that will be cheaper because they will qualify for subsidies. But others will find themselves paying more for coverage beyond what they want.
Meanwhile, employers and group policy administrators are calculating the impact of Obamacare. A study by the national consulting group Towers Watson estimated that 60 percent of larger employers believe they will be subject to a new excise tax in 2018 because their so-called “Cadillac” plans are too rich.
That means employees will see fewer benefits or higher premiums.
Still, the President kept repeating that promise, perhaps for marketing reasons. Americans, who were comfortable with their insurance needed to be assured that nothing would change, while those wanting coverage were guaranteed that they would get it.
Everybody wins, right?
But insurance doesn’t work that way. The risk has to be spread around, and if some people are going to have rates that are artificially low, then the rates paid by others will be artificially high to make up the difference.
When President Obama argues for higher taxes, he says the wealthy can afford to pay a little bit more, or that they have an obligation to give something back. He could have used the same logic for the health care law, saying those with good health and quality insurance have an obligation to help pay for the care of those who don’t.
It would have been an extremely tough sell. After all, we don’t buy insurance because we want to guarantee health care for others; we are looking out for ourselves and our families.
But at least it would not have been a false promise.