Another Crack in the ObamaCare Wall
Iowa is offering some alternatives for citizens priced out of ObamaCare. Leftists hate it.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has driven the ObamaCare-loving left crazy.
When incumbent Iowa Governor Terry Branstad resigned last May to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China, Reynolds, who served as lieutenant governor since 2011, was appointed as Iowa’s 43rd chief executive and the first woman to serve as governor. This year she’s running for a full term in a state where average ObamaCare premiums have skyrocketed 57%, a reality Reynolds blames on the law’s regulations. “Many Iowans faced a choice of going broke or going without insurance,” she declared. “And that’s really not a real choice.”
Many Iowans apparently agreed. Approximately 26,000 of them who had previously purchased premiums on the individual market dropped out between 2017 and 2018 due to high prices, and another 20,000 were expected to follow suit this year.
Those dropouts were engendered by a familiar tale of woe. As Politico columnist Paul Denko explains, the state’s insurance market “imploded, with insurers fleeing the market because of big losses” over the past four years. That exodus left exactly one company, Medica, selling plans on the ObamaCare exchange in the state.
Last June, that reality initially caused Medica to seek a 43.5% premium increase, affecting about 14,000 Iowans. Two months later, Medica upped its request to 57%.
Last Monday Reynolds responded. She signed Senate File 2349, allowing the Iowa Farm Bureau to partner with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and offer self-funded “health benefit plans.” In addition, the law allows small businesses or self-employed people to band together and purchase “association health plans” (AHPs). Since these new types of coverage are not defined as health insurance, they are not subject to regulation by the Iowa Insurance Division, or ObamaCare mandates.
Timothy S. Jost, an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University, illuminated what Iowa is doing. “It’s not a state saying we’re going to violate the ACA,” he explained. “It’s a state saying we’ve found a loophole in the ACA, and we’re going to use it.”
Loophole? Choice is more like it. And of the many things that make hysterical leftists hysterical, providing Americans with an alternative to ObamaCare — an odious concoction sold with an avalanche of lies to “stupid” Americans and passed in the dead of night without a single Republican vote — goes right to the top of the list.
Thus, pushback was inevitable. “This legislation will allow insurance companies to sell junk plans without proper oversight — precisely the kind of abuses the Affordable Care Act was designed to stop,” insisted Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, a pro-ObamaCare advocacy group.
Dach typifies the progressive mindset that misses the forest in search of the trees. For far too many Iowans, what Dach refers to as “junk plans” are better than no plans at all. An unidentified woman who witnessed the signing of the Iowa law addressed that inconvenient reality, noting that “there’s no reason a healthy 32-year-old should be paying more for health insurance than for her mortgage.”
Unfortunately there is, when one is forced to buy ObamaCare coverage that mandates 10 “essential benefits” including maternity care, mental health and substance abuse treatments, and pediatric services — even if one is a male, substance abuse-free, or a non-adolescent.
It is precisely this one-size-fits-all approach to health care that has alienated many Americans. According to the IRS, more than six million households chose to pay the ObamaCare penalty in 2015, the majority of whom were low- and middle-income Americans the law was ostensibly supposed to help. Moreover, when the repeal of the individual mandate goes into effect in 2019, the Congressional Budget Office predicts four million Americans will decide to forgo insurance in 2019, and 13 million will drop coverage by 2027 — precipitating a 10% increase in ObamaCare premiums in every one of those years.
It doesn’t get much more abusive and unaffordable than that.
A spokesman for the Iowa Farm Bureau addressed that reality, explaining that plans “are currently being worked out between Wellmark and Farm Bureau,” specifically to provide “an option for folks who are currently priced out of the ACA.” And while Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen reveals the impact of the new plans on the states’ markets remains largely unknown, he concedes Iowa doesn’t currently “have a large number of young and healthy people in that ACA market.”
Make that young and healthy people who are absolutely necessary to keep ObamaCare costs down. And while such efforts might be well-intended, especially with regard to people with pre-existing conditions who cannot afford to pay higher prices that would otherwise be necessary to keep insurance markets stable — absent those younger and healthier Americans offsetting those costs — there are other perils rarely talked about, most of which center on personal responsibility.
While most Americans have no qualms whatsoever about helping those who have pre-existing conditions, or become ill through no fault of their own, that sympathetic mindset likely doesn’t extend to those who lead conspicuously unhealthy lifestyles, knowing their fellow Americans will help underwrite their insurance costs. That ObamaCare makes no distinction between the two is highly problematic.
Yet even more problematic would be the emergence of a “health police” mindset, whereby government mandates lifestyle choices, for the “greater good” of keeping premium prices down, in order to incentivize those who would otherwise quit such a system to remain in it.
The common denominator? The apparently fatal assumption that collectivist health care is superior to Americans making individual choices about what they want covered and what they don’t. Moreover, there are ways of protecting those with pre-existing conditions that don’t require subjecting every American to rapidly escalating health care costs.
Thus, when any plan that embraces choice is reflexively labeled “junk” by progressives, that characterization reveals a mindset far more concerned with controlling Americans than helping them.
In short, progressives seem determined to preserve ObamaCare, even if it fails the people it was supposed to help.
Iowa’s plan is hardly cutting edge. Tennessee’s Farm Bureau has offered non-ObamaCare insurance for years, and Iowa’s plan is partly modeled after it. Moreover, Governor Reynolds insists the law is a temporary response to Congress’ inability to address the nation’s health care problem.
Iowa Farm Bureau spokeswoman Laurie Johns echoed Reynold’s concerns. “What we know for sure is that Iowans have seen individual health insurance premiums shoot through the roof — some have seen as much as 300 percent increases over the last four years” she wrote, “and out of pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays are also up significantly.”
Is Congress the best place to address the nation’s health care? Americans might ask themselves if allowing states to formulate their own plans might be a better way to go for the simplest of reasons: 50 chances to get it right beats one chance by a mile. And shouldn’t getting it right for individual Americans — as opposed to insurance companies or government bureaucracies — be the only thing that matters?
For Americans who need affordable health care, the answer is obvious. For those with a greater interest in protecting the Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Bureaucracy status quo?
Not so much.