Earlier this week in a rally in Nashville, President Trump reiterated a plea he has made throughout his push for the new health care law: “Insurers are fleeing, and nobody will have insurance.” I am concerned that this stance is dangerously overstated as a good reason to dismantle our current health insurance system.
The “fleeing” refers only to some insurance companies no longer offering specialized insurance plans on the state-run Exchanges (the ones that come with subsidies for lower-income folks). If a person earns too much to receive a tax subsidy, which is the majority of Americans, he or she can go directly to an insurance carrier and buy a plan during open enrollment. Outside of the Exchanges, there are many plan and carrier options everywhere.
This “fleeing” affects a very small portion of insured folks, and doesn’t actually destroy an individual’s ability to choose a health plan. While a few states (the President refers to about five mostly) have only one insurance carrier (like BlueCross), even a sole insurer must offer more than one level of coverage. For example, if BlueCross BlueShield is the only insurer on the Exchange, individuals who are eligible for tax subsidies will only be able to receive that subsidy on a BlueCross BlueShield plan; however, there are 3-6 different plans of varying coverage levels and out of pocket costs available to pick.
One issue with the Affordable Care Act was a severe education gap – people did not know how to use the Exchanges or whether they should even be looking for plans on them. The vast majority of uninsured folks do not qualify for a subsidy because they earn more than the income threshold. These people should not be going to the Exchanges for plans, as those are costed higher (due to higher coverage standards and the premium is significantly reduced with the subsidies) than equivalent plans bought directly from insurers.
Yes, insurance companies are not doing well with the Exchange, but the Exchange is only one, small portion of the Affordable Care Act. Any individual can still go directly to one of the many insurance carriers in each state and purchase a plan for his or her family. The President and Congressional supporters are overblowing a comparatively minor problem with the Affordable Care Act and making it seem like the entire system relies on this premise. The Exchange problem can be solved independently, but the current administration is too busy trying to convince America that we need a restart. Don’t let a salt cube in a sugar box ruin the box, just remove the salt cube.
A GIANT part of the administration’s argument for the new health insurance law is based on this issue. They want us to believe it’s shattering the industry, but in fact it’s only affecting a small portion of insured folks. This premise is untrue, and without it, the bill has no real problem its trying to solve.
I implore everyone to call their Senators and Representatives and ask them to vote against the American Health Care Act. Let’s tweak what doesn’t work and keep what does, and have a discussion on our health care system; not completely destroy it and hope it works out.
Michael H. Haynes, Esq.