As everyone knows by now, come January 2014 pursuant to Obamacare, everyone in this country must have health insurance, or pay a penalty. But, not just any health insurance will do. You must have a “qualified” plan as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Of course, certain things, by law, must be in that plan such as emergency services, rehab services, mental health and substance abuse services, and prescription drugs. But, what about those things not listed in the law itself? Most feared that lobbyists for everything imaginable would camp out on the Secretary’s doorstep pleading their case for inclusion of all sorts of medical treatments. But, logic dictates that the more that is included, the higher the premiums.
Last Friday, however, the Secretary of Health and Human Services announced the final decision…the states will be able to decide what plans sold in their states must include. However, this is not a blanket permission.
The new proposal would let states pick a benefits package from several federally approved options. Those range from benefits offered to federal and state employees to the most popular small business plans in the state and to a large health maintenance organization, or HMO.
This, of course would be the starting point, as states could heap more benefits on the package. So the lobbyists will now be forced to circle their wagons around each state capital.
But, this may not be the best approach either.
Neil Trautwein, employee-benefits manager at the National Retail Federation, said he was concerned the cost of a federal-employee plan could be beyond the reach of an individual purchaser or small employer.
It most certainly will be, as will the cost of most state government plans.
Then, there are those who are concerned that,
[t]he implementation plans also raise questions of possible disparity, with people in some states having better plans than others. And, depending how substantive the coverage differences are among states, it could lead some people to move in an attempt to get better coverage elsewhere.
How true. If your coverage happens to be “free”, as it will be for many, “relo” will be the word of the day. Ironically, the states most likely to pick “the most popular federal employee plan” (and thus the most expensive plan) as their standard are the very states who are least capable of dealing with the influx of folks receiving free insurance who move there because of the mandated insurance benefits.
Of course, the converse is also true. If you actually have to pay for your insurance, your instinct will be to move from a state that mandates the most (i.e. high premiums) to a state that mandates the least. You may not need all of the whistles and bells of the fancy “federal and state” like plans. Besides, unless absolutely necessary, you will think twice about using one of those missing whistles if you actually have to pay for it yourself.
What is interesting is that those on the far left seem to be horrified by this approach. Their plan was that everyone would be stuck with the same theoretical insurance benefits. I say theoretical because that is what Obamacare is. Everyone has insurance, but only the rich will actually be able to see a doctor.