Devils hiding out in the details


We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it …”

That’s the famous (or infamous) quote of March 9, 2010, from then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on President Barack Obama’s health care reform package.

Opponents of Obamacare always leave out the six words that followed — “away from the fog of controversy” — that puts Pelosi’s remark in context.

Still, with full-scale imposition of health care reform less than a year away, those who thought it would be a gloriously simple process that would make coverage more affordable are finding out there actually were some devils hidden in the details.

A report this week found that uninsured Americans applying for benefits under Obamacare will have to fill out — navigate might be a better word — a 15-page form (for a three-person family) before they even get to the step of picking a health plan, which will require additional paperwork and, apparently, a working knowledge of the insurance industry and its glossary of definitions.

Given that virtually everyone in the U.S. will be compelled by law to carry health insurance, there’s no opting out or choosing an “EZ form,” although it wouldn’t stun us to see the kind of folks who wait until 11:59 p.m. April 15 to file their taxes because they hate such busywork throw up their hands and scream, “I can’t deal with this, go ahead and penalize me.”

Another report this week found insurers warning of premium hikes of between 20 and 100 percent for some individuals — those who buy their own insurance or work for smaller companies who aren’t able to negotiate the deals larger employers can, or who fall into certain age groups.

And there’s even talk that veterinary fees could increase because of a tax on manufacturers of certain medical machines that are intended for people, but can be used on pooches, too.

Obamacare proponents say that’s silliness, since under the law insurers are prohibited from raising rates just to increase their profits, must justify rate hikes of more than 10 percent to either state or federal regulators and they must spend at least 80 percent of premiums on patient care.

The problem is, health care costs over the last decade have grown by 52 percent more than family incomes according to a study by The Commonwealth Fund, and there’s no sign of that stopping. Everything rises in price over time, especially when research and technological advances produce new “toys.”

Obamacare employs a conventional insurance arrangement, not the single-payer system liberals sought. Insurers may be constrained from wanton rate hikes under Obama-care, but there’s nothing in the law that tells them they have to eat a higher cost of doing business — and they won’t.

From the New Bern (North Caroline) Sun Journal

 

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