Daily Archives: July 16, 2009

Lies, Damned Lies, and Scare Tactics

This morning, an understandably concerned friend shared an editorial with me that suggested that the House version of the health reform bill would kill the individual private health insurance industry. The article, the link to which I hesitatingly include here (read at your own risk), plays on two rather prominent concerns Americans have: Loss of choice and Government-run health care.

Specifically, the editorial claims that those who currently have individual private coverage would not be able to change their plans, but would be forced to keep their current coverage (loss of choice), and that the future creation of new individual private insurance plans would be, and I quote, “illegal.” This, we are told, would lead directly to an Orwellian state-run system.

Are you scared to death yet? I wouldn’t blame you if you were. Scare tactics are VERY effective. The problem is, that the editorial is just plain wrong. Allow me to explain….

The editorial takes one paragraph of a HUGE piece of legislation out of context. There is no indication that the individual private health insurance market is being made “illegal”…..rather the proposed legislation would:

1. Grandfather in existing individual private insurance plans and require them to adhere to strict terms — which are included to protect enrollees from having their benefits reduced or their premiums raised at unreasonable rates in the wake of health reform (to prevent private insurers from attempting to “compete” with the public plan on uneven terms that would essentially be unfair to the consumer who would be ill-informed as to prices and benefits of other products
available to them — if any of you’d like to give that a try, you should visit the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan Finder and play around with it to see if you can pick the “best” plan.
(And before you go saying, “Well, that’s no surprise! The government can’t do anything right!” Keep in mind that these are PRIVATE insurers’ plans you are looking at.)

2. Require private health insurers who intend to offer new individual plans in the wake of reform to participate in the government’s new “health insurance connector” — something taken directly from the Massachusetts plan (enacted under the Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, by the way) — the purpose of which is to help pool risks in the individual market (which would help keep costs down) as well as make it easier for individuals to compare plans side-by-side. Like the Medicare Part D tool referenced above, this is likely to be confusing, but honestly, it will be less confusing than the convoluted mess we have now. That is to say “seeing through a glass darkly” is better
than remaining completely blind.

But, hey, this is a democracy, so don’t just take my word for it. When it comes to anything we hear, see, or read in politics, we would do well to be like Paul Harvey and be sure to get “the rest of the story.” For those of you who feel especially “inclined” the full 1,018 page House bill is available here.

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