Healthcare Opportunities Opportunists Abound
Econintersect: At least opportunities seem to abound for the insurance companies who are being accused of manipulating their customers in the confusion over the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka ObamaCare) implementation. From what is found in some reports the headline might well replace the word “opportunities” with “opportunists”. It seems that when information is not available for one thing (ACA) the opening is created for other things to rush in with misleading and self-serving “information”.
“Nature abhors a vacuum.”
– – Aristotle . . . . .
The Huffington Post accuses insurance companies of sending out ‘misleading’ cancellation notices. From an article by Ariel Edwards-Levy:
Some insurance companies are sending cancellation notices or other “misleading” letters to customers in an attempt to push them into pricier alternatives, according to new reports.
Dylan Scott, in an article at Talking Points Memo (TPC), reports on cases where insurance companies have pressured customers to renew policies at higher premiums than would be available through public health insurance exchanges (HIX). Scott says that these tactics were engaged with no mention of the HIX or with that information buried in obscure fine print.
The problems documented by The Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo are enabled in part by the failure of HIX, especially HealthCare.gov, the government HIX website, to function properly. Aristotle was prescient for yet another situation.
In late September an article by Timothy W. Martin in The Wall Street Journal reviewed tactics used by insurance comapnies to try to rush their healthy customers into hasty decisions about 2014 policies. From that article:
Health insurers are making a big push to hang onto their policyholders ahead of new government-run exchanges expected to roll out next week, but state regulators have accused some of misleading those customers in the process.
Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates LLC, a health insurer consultant, was quoted by Martin:
“This is really about a panic in the insurance industry. What they’re gravely worried about is they won’t get enough healthy people to pay for the costs of the sick people.”
In addition, the charges that Obama concealed subterfuge so that no one knew of current problems until the last minute has some credibility problems. First under the ACA:
- You can keep your plan if it has been in force since 23 March 2010. Since somewhere around 25% of all individual policies are changed in some way upon renewal each year (and a somewhat smaller percentage of group plans), only about 30% of individual plans that were eligible for grandfathering as of 2010 will still exist for 2014.
- The law does not require insurance companies to maintain grandfathered policies or to notify their customers of the significance of any policy changes after 23 March 2010.
Secondly, there was no hiding of this problem with the grandfathering provision. From a 14 June 2010 article by Scott Gottlieb (a doctor and American Enterprise Institute fellow) in The New York Post, the implementation of ObamaCare was reviewed in detail under the following headline:
“You’re losing your plan.“
So there was clearly not concealment. But considering the overly simplified repetition by the president that “you can keep your health care if you like it” there was also clearly obfuscation by omission of important details. There are political opportunists as well as corporate opportunists, and muddy waters play into the hands of both.
- Insurance Companies Use ‘Misleading’ Cancellation Notices On Obamacare (Ariel Edwards-Levy, The Huffington Post, 04 November 2013)
- Special Investigation: How Insurers Are Hiding Obamacare Benefits From Customers (Dylan Scott, Talking Points Memo, 04 November 2013)
- Health Insurers Scramble to Keep Healthy Customers (Timothy W. Martin, The Wall Street Journal, 23 September 2013)
- You’re losing your plan (Scott Gottlieb, The New York Post, 14 June 2010)