Don’t Celebrate Lower Health Care Premiums for ObamaCare Plans When Their Cost is Less Access to Life-Saving Medical Treatment

NRL News Today

Don’t celebrate lower health care premiums for ObamaCare plans when their cost is less access to life-saving medical treatment

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By Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

CBOlogoA Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report now documents that Obamacare exchange plans, while often cheaper, are restricting access to life-saving medical care.

According to the CBO’s recently released “Updated Estimates of the Effects of the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, April 2014,” Obamacare’s insurance provisions will cost $104 billion less than projected over the next decade. However, these savings will come at tremendous cost. The CBO goes on to describe the reality — that while there are savings on insurance premiums, there is solid and growing evidence that these plans restrict access to life-saving medical treatment for ourselves, our family members, and our loved ones.

CBO writes,

“The plans being offered through exchanges in 2014 appear to have, in general, lower payment rates for providers, narrower networks of providers, and tighter management of their subscribers’ use of health care than employment-based plans do. Those features allow insurers that offer plans through the exchanges to charge lower premiums (although they also make plans somewhat less attractive to potential enrollees). As projected enrollment in exchange plans grows from an average of 6 million in 2014 to 24 million in 2016, CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] anticipate that many plans will not be able to sustain provider payment rates that are as low or networks that are as narrow as they appear to be in 2014.”

Last year, when hundreds of thousands of Americans lost plans they liked, the administration claimed that “the new exchange plans would be better than your old plan.” This could not be father from the truth for tens of thousands.

As millions of Americans are attempting to start using their new Obamacare exchange health insurance plans, stories about denial of payment keep piling up. You can read more on this at nrlc.cc/QpXbrk. The newly issued CBO report confirms, that exchange plans are restrictive. What’s worse, this is by design.

Rarely reported in the mainstream media is an Obamacare provision under which exchange bureaucrats must exclude health insurers who offer policies deemed to allow “excessive or unjustified” health care spending by their policyholders.

Under the Federal health law, state insurance commissioners are to recommend to their state exchanges the exclusion of “particular health insurance issuers … based on a pattern or practice of excessive or unjustified premium increases.” The exchanges not only exclude policies in an exchange when government authorities do not agree with their premiums, but the exchanges must even exclude insurers whose plans outside the exchange offer consumers the ability to reduce the danger of treatment denial by paying what those government authorities consider an “excessive or unjustified” amount.

This means that insurers who hope to be able to gain customers within the exchanges have a strong disincentive to offer any adequately funded plans that do not drastically limit access to care. So even if you contact insurers directly, outside the exchange, you are likely to find it hard or impossible to find an adequate individual plan. (See documentation at www.nrlc.org/medethics/healthcarerationing.)

When the government limits what can be charged for health insurance, it restricts what people are allowed to pay for medical treatment. While everyone would prefer to pay less–or nothing–for health care (or anything else), government price controls prevent access to lifesaving medical treatment that costs more to supply than the prices set by the government.

While Obamacare continues to roll out in 2014, it is important to continue to educate friends and neighbors about the dangers the law poses in restricting what Americans can spend to save their own lives and the lives of their families. You can follow up-to-date reports here: powellcenterformedicalethics.blogspot.com

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