The Obama administration had a bright suggestion for their insurance companies (they do seem to belong to the governement, don’t they?):

The Obama administration said Thursday it would allow millions of Americans whose insurance policies had been canceled to purchase bare-bones plans next year, in another 11th-hour tweak to the law likely to cause consternation among health insurers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a group of six senators in a letter that people whose policies had been canceled because of new requirements under the Affordable Care Act would be allowed to purchase “catastrophic” plans. Those plans previously had been restricted under the new law to people under the age of 30 or those who qualified for a set of specific hardship exemptions.

Basically, this means they’ve expanded the definition of “hardship” to include “screwed by the Obamacare regulations.” Come to think of it, that makes sense.

In fact, though, it’s even later than the eleventh hour. Many insurers are saying this move would amplify the chaos in an already chaotic situation.

The Washington Post also reports:

The Obama administration on Thursday night significantly relaxed the rules of the federal health-care law for millions of consumers whose individual insurance policies have been canceled, saying they can buy bare-bones plans or entirely avoid a requirement that most Americans have health coverage.

The surprise announcement, days before the Dec. 23 deadline for people to choose plans that will begin Jan. 1, triggered an immediate backlash from the health insurance industry and raised fairness questions about a law intended to promote affordable and comprehensive coverage on a widespread basis

I have a question for Obama, Sebelius, and the rest: if the individual policies cancelled were such terrible “junk,” why are you allowing those who originally had them to purchase a type of policy you defined as “junk” in the first place?

Might it be because catastrophic insurance can sometimes be a valid choice for people, and not “junk” at all?

Furthermore, why not just let anyone who wants to do so purchase a catastrophic plan? Wouldn’t that be a novel idea?

While we’re at it, take a look at the Bronze plans already on the exchanges. With average deductibles of $5,081 for an individual and $10,386 for a family, and average annual out-of-pocket cost caps of $6,267 for an individual and $12,569 for a family, they seem to have many of the drawbacks of traditional catastrophic plans. Yet they may end up lacking some of those plans’ advantages, because they tend to be more expensive than the old plans and often feature much narrower networks.

Progress.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

 
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