On Thursday five Democratic Senators—Mark Begich (AK), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Mary Landrieu (LA), Joe Manchin (WV), and Mark Warner (VA)—introduced a plan to supposedly “fix” ObamaCare. Joining them was Senator Angus King of Maine, an Independent who usually votes with the Democrats.
The centerpiece of this fix is “a new lower cost, high-deductible option called the Copper Plan, in addition to the existing Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze options in the marketplace that would give consumers more control over their own coverage, spur competition, and, most importantly, increase affordability. The new Copper Plan would meet the essential benefits laid out by the Affordable Care Act.”
Last time I checked, people on the exchange were not crying out for more plans with even higher deductibles. In fact, we’ve had numerous news articles with people complaining how high the deductibles and out-of-pocket (OOP) costs were for the cheapest plans.
To keep premiums on the exchange as low as possible, insurers had to push deductibles and OOP costs as high as the law allowed and to limit networks. One reason for this is that they had to cover the cost of providing the ten “essential benefits” required by ObamaCare. They couldn’t offer plans with lower premiums and deductibles and better networks in exchange for covering fewer benefits.
But it seems like a lot of people are willing to make that trade-off if ObamaCare would let them. And those people cut across the political spectrum. For example here is ObamaCare supporter Eric L. Wee yesterday in The New York Times:
…having deductibles that high [$10,000] means this is largely insurance to make sure that we don’t go bankrupt if we become very ill. Yes, the new plan has more coverage, including pediatric vision. But we don’t have children, and I’d trade coverage for things like substance abuse treatment and mental health in return for lower premiums.
Here is ObamaCare opponent Jim Bulger, whose premium increased 84 percent:
He pays extra for benefits he doesn’t need. He has no plans to have more kids, so he doesn’t need a maternity benefit.
“I’m mentally very healthy — so are my kids. No drugs, no problems with alcohol. I don’t need the mental health benefit,” Jim said.
Any real fix would give insurers the freedom to offer policies that differ on the number of benefits they cover and consumers the freedom to choose such policies. Doing that, though, would completely undermine all the Democratic and liberal rhetoric about ObamaCare providing “comprehensive” coverage.
So what the Democrats come up with is a plan that offers a solution no one is asking for, while ignoring the problems people have complained about it. “Clueless” is a pretty good description of that.