Talking about ObamaCare Monday, The New York Times said “Lower health insurance premiums to come at a cost of fewer choices.”
The editorial said federal officials say health insurance will cost less than expected under ObamaCare, but they rarely mention one big reason: “Many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.”
Insurers are driving “down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans.”
Adam M. Linker, a health policy analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center, a statewide advocacy group, was quoted saying consumers should be prepared for “much tighter, narrower networks” of doctors and hospitals.
“That can be positive for consumers if it holds down premiums and drives people to higher quality providers. But there is also a risk because, under some health plans, consumers can end up with astronomical costs if they go to providers outside the network.”
And if an insurer excludes a hospital, which may own many physician groups from its network, it excludes the doctors too.
And while insurers can’t discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, they could discourage the enrollment of sicker patients by limiting the size of their provider network.
But that isn’t what President Obama promised in 2010 when he also said we could keep our doctor. Oh, and he also said we would discover that ObamaCare would be cheaper.
But it’s not. Family premiums haven’t gone down by $2,500. They’ve risen $2,976.
ObamaCare is also, says the Congressional Budget Office, adding to the federal budget deficit, though we were told it wouldn’t.
ObamaCare is a mess.
In July, Mark Mazur, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, canceled the insurance reporting rules and tax enforcement of ObamaCare, an unlawful act of defiance, until 2015. He took this action in a blog, on a Friday night, when it wouldn’t and didn’t receive much publicity, with the full concurrence of President Obama.
Why did he do it? Because, said Mr. Mazur, “the complexity of the requirements.”
While this was unlawful, Mr. Obama didn’t do anything about it even though Section 3, Article II of the U.S. Constitution says the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
Mr. Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law March 23, 2010. Now like immigration and welfare reform work requirements, he’s decided not to enforce the law, the employer mandate of ObamaCare, his signature legislation, for another year
The mandate requires businesses with at least 50 employees to provide health insurance or pay tax penalties of $2,000 per employee each year. Without employer provided health insurance, more people will go on state exchanges, where health insurance is subsidized. If workers refuse employer health insurance, they must pay the individual mandate tax. Which individuals will be forced to buy Jan. 1, 2014, while businesses are exempt.
While Republicans are split over defunding ObamaCare, they are, admittedly, not helping their cause or themselves by supporting the exemption Mr. Obama approved for Congress and its staffers.
Like the waivers Mr. Obama has granted his favorite constituencies, granting special exemption to Congress is hypocritical.
In early August, Mr. Obama, on his own, said members of Congress (annual salary $174,000) and their staffers, many of whom are paid than $100,000 annually, are exempt from ObamaCare. He did this because some congressional staffers threatened to quit and some members of Congress whined about a “brain drain.”
We, the taxpayers, cover 75% of the cost of healthcare premiums for Congress and their staffers under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHBP. That’s $4,900 for individuals and $11,000 for family coverage.
So now members of Congress and their staffers will keep their “special subsidies unavailable for less privileged and less affluent citizens,” paid for by taxpayers because Mr. Obama directed the Office of Personnel Management to authorize it. And that’s unlawful too, because the Office of Personnel Management doesn’t have the power to do that. What Mr. Obama did by ordering it to do what it did violates the Constitution and its clearly implied separation of powers. But we’re not supposed to notice.
Republicans should end their hypocrisy of being exempt from ObamaCare. Let the Democrats, who own ObamaCare, have it. If Republicans don’t fight their exemption, they will be just like the Democrats.