By Dr. Mark Kellen, M.D.
No, Mr. Obama, I do not get to keep my insurance.
H.R. 3200 and any similar philosophy in Washington is aimed at destroying private insurance and increasing government control of our medical system. Mr. Obama says he is going to let you keep your insurance if you want to, but this is a lie, or at best deliberately deceptive. The bill slowly strangles medical care until it no longer exists. It might take up to 10 years, but if H.R. 3200 is implemented, it is not disinformation to say that private insurance, at least in spirit, will cease to exist for the vast majority of Americans. In the next 10 years, costs will rise and choices will disappear, the exact opposite of what Mr. Obama has promised.
On page 15 of H.R. 3200, the Requirements for Qualified Health Benefits Plans are spelled out.
On or after the first day of Y1 (Jan. 1, 2013), a health benefits plan shall not be a qualified health benefits plan under this division unless the plan meets the applicable requirements of the following subtitles for the type of plan and plan year involved.
These requirements include the following: No pre-existing conditions denials (p. 19), guaranteed issue (p. 20), and limiting premium increases as you age (p. 21). All Americans will be required to purchase coverage for treatment for alcohol and drug abuse, even if you do not drink or use drugs (p. 23).
On the bottom of page 27 and running through page 30, details of the minimum services to be covered by all insurance policies are presented. It states that there can be no cost sharing for preventive services and that a strict out-of-pocket cap is established.
To administer all these benefits and decide how they should change over time, a new bureaucracy is created on page 20. The Health Benefits Advisory Committee is a 27-member panel who will make all decisions about what insurance should and should not cover. In other words, the consumer gets NO CHOICE! I believe Mr. Obama is fond of the word
but apparently that only applies to the government, not the individuals paying the bills.
As is obvious immediately, high deductible health plans and health savings accounts are not qualified plans under these rules. So I, for one, and many others who like their high deductible plans, will not get to
keep my plan if I like it.
(We do not yet have a bill in the Senate, but I have specifically asked Sen. Durbin about HSAs, and he wants them abolished.)
The most obvious next step would be to look to see if any states have minimum benefit packages that match all the rules listed above. The answer is yes, there are nine states that treat health insurance in this manner. The three worst offenders are New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. These three states have the highest insurance rates in the nation. For a more detailed discussion of the topic, you can check the Aug. 12 Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204908604574332293172846168html. This does show another current lie being told by the President; his ideas will decrease your insurance rates.
Mr. Robert Gates (press secretary) stated that health care reform has to be done now, because without reform, insurance rates would double in nine years. I guess we should stop the whole show then because a study from the Council for Affordable Health Insurance has shown that HR 3200 would double insurance rates within five years. http://www.cahi.org/cahi_contents/resurces/pdf/CAHICommunityRatingStudy.pdf. Thus, we have another Obama lie. That is that the status quo is worse than doing nothing. This is clearly not the case.
We should now go back to page 16 and a section called
Protecting the choice to keep current coverage.
It states that my policy will be grandfathered into the new plan and I can keep it. However, the insurance company can sell no similar policies, and if I change any aspect of my policy, then I lose my insurance. I would lose it even if I wanted to raise my deductible to save money.
The lie comes when you realize this only applies to the individual insurance market. Since very few people get their insurance on the individual market, promising you can keep your insurance is a hollow promise.
The employment-based market (the vast majority of privately-insured individuals) has no such permanent grandfathered state. As of Jan. 1, 2018, all employment plans would have to change to the new government mandates (p. 18). In addition, if the company changes plans after Jan.1, 2013, the old plan would have to be discarded to adopt the new government mandates. Thus, the complete truth, for most of us, is that you do get to keep your current plan for five years. You can possibly keep it for 10 years if absolutely no changes are made; otherwise, you would have to switch to the new unaffordable plan mandated by the government. You definitely lose your plan Jan. 1, 2018.
In the individual market, all plans offered after Jan. 1, 2013, must meet all government mandates, which will make them unaffordable. It would appear we do not need a
to keep the private insurance companies honest, so much as we need a minister to keep Mr. Obama honest.
The net effect including other regulations not mentioned will be to force the insurance companies to sell an expensive product no one can afford and see any profit-making opportunities limited. They will either go out of business or function like utilities under complete government control. The majority of people will see their choices limited to plans that are too expensive to purchase and be forced into a government plan.
The last lie is that Mr. Obama promises you can keep your doctor. On page 127, it states that if your doctor will not accept the government-approved payment, then you will have to pay the entire bill yourself. Given that the number of physicians accepting the government’s payment is falling, the true statement is that you can keep your doctor under two circumstances. The first is that you pay the full bill yourself; the second is that your doctor is still willing to accept anyone on government programs.
I frequently see people and the President argue that H.R. 3200 is being misrepresented. This is true, but it is the President who is guilty. Please read H.R. 3200; I have given specific pages and references.
The truth of the matter is that Mr. Obama does not care about the private sector. The government is on a path to insolvency unless it wants to start selling national treasures to pay off our debts. The purpose of this bill is to acquire new revenues to feed the beast known as the federal government. The lies will continue because, in the end, this is not about medical care for you; it is about increasing power and control for Mr. Obama.
Dr. Mark Kellen is president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. His educational credentials include the University of Iowa, Iowa City; Sauk Valley Hospital, Sioux Falls, S.D.; University of Chicago; and Augustana College in Sioux Falls. For the last 10 years, he has been a staff anesthesiologist and taught at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford.
From the September 16-22, 2009 issue.