Much has been made of President Obama’s repeated promise that under Democrats’ health care reforms, as he restated just Monday, “If you have health insurance, and you like it, and you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period.”
The point is crucial to his claim that a taxpayer-funded health insurance program will be just a single, solitary, tiny, unobtrusive new option that you can totally ignore if you wish.
It’s a claim that’s utterly false.
The health care bill before the House of Representatives – the very one Obama is urging Congress to pass before members, much less the public, can even understand it – shreds the president’s promise.
Under the heading “Protecting the Choice to Keep Current Coverage,” the House bill grandfathers current private health insurance plans into law. There are just three little ol’ exceptions: The terms and conditions of coverage can’t change; premium rate changes must be approved by the new Health Choices commissioner (which has a nice Orwellian ring, huh?); and no new customers may join the plan.
This notion of The Insurance Plans That Time Forgot is laughable on its face. Even if the premiums, terms and conditions of a plan could continue in a kind of perpetual motion, the prohibition on new plan participants guarantees that all current plans will die off, and soon.
Unless our work force suddenly becomes vastly more static than it is now, with more workers who stick with the same company and thus insurance plan for life, routine worker movement will mean the loss of thousands of any given plan’s customers every year. No insurer can keep offering the exact same plan, pricing and all, to a shrinking number of people. A study by the Lewin Group found that more than 80 million Americans would be forced to trade their private coverage for ObamaCare.
But being 99 percent certain that existing plans would die wasn’t enough for Obama, Nancy Pelosi & Co. So they also inserted a clause requiring, after a grace period of five years, current insurance plans to meet the same government mandates of coverage for the new public option and any new private ones.
In other words, you can keep your plan, but only for five years. Then, by law, it must change to cover all the mandates dreamed up by the Health Choices commissioner and his merry band of advisory panels.
It’s hard to believe that this is a case where our oh-so eloquent president is simply misspeaking off the cuff, as in his past remarks about the Austrian language or our 57 states, or is merely a victim of teleprompter error.
After all, he’s made this assertion about letting Americans choose to keep their health insurance on numerous occasions.
It’s hard to believe that our oh-so intellectual president thinks that we can save choice by destroying choice. It’s hard to believe that he thinks we can reduce health insurance costs by requiring more people to pay for plans that cover more services, at a 10-year cost of $1 trillion.
After all, he’s said in the past that what he’d really like is a single-payer health system, and his actions belie any of his words about fiscal responsibility.
It is because of such basic contradictions and obfuscations that Obama and liberal Democrats in Congress are rushing to pass a health care bill.
The effect will be more than just changing health insurance, a goal which, done in a way other than a hasty hostile takeover, might attract much public support. It will put Washington in charge of decisions over the type of care allowed and, crucially, funded by taxpayer money.
The feds’ reach will be long, extending most controversially into the womb.
A Senate committee has amended that chamber’s bill to require insurers to work with the likes of Planned Parenthood. Making its intent clear, the same committee rejected a proposal to exclude abortion as a taxpayer-funded service except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life.
All told, this is not an improvement in American health care. It is a liberal fantasy that Obama is trying to fast-track into reality.
Note to readers: Kyle Wingfield will begin blogging daily in August. Commenting on this blog will open then.