By changing the rules governing short term plans, the federal government succeeds in limiting individual choices for health insurance coverage
At HSA for America, we’ve long been proponents for individual choice in health care decisions. We believe you should have multiple options when it comes to the type of policy you can purchase, and that you should be able to choose doctors and hospitals based on public price and quality data.
That’s why I’m especially distressed to see the latest news out of Washington regarding the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed health insurance changes to the law. If HHS gets its way, an individual will no longer be able to purchase short term plans, which provide an affordable coverage option for those who are healthy, for periods longer than 3 months.
Short term plans were designed to fill in the gap before you get a permanent plan, providing people with coverage that protected them in the event of hospitalization for illness or injury. But because premiums have skyrocketed under Obamacare, many Americans – especially those who don’t qualify for help in the form of government subsidies – find it more affordable to keep short term coverage in force instead of buying permanent coverage.
Because of the loss of these relatively younger, healthier individuals in the pool of insureds on the exchange, these groups are brimming with sick people who are filing more claims and driving the overall cost of coverage up. But with the changes proposed by HHS, the government is forcing individuals into the exchanges in an attempt to spread the cost of insuring the sicker individuals around.
These changes just serve to highlight one of the most prominent, inherent design flaws in Obamacare. The system gambled heavily that younger, healthier people would buy coverage, and their presence in the pool would offset the costs of insuring older and/or sicker individuals. But despite continually trying to increase enrollment of young people in exchange plans, they account for less than 25% of the exchange population. Young healthy people simply don’t want to purchase overpriced health insurance, in order to subsidize everyone else.
I think individuals should be allowed to choose what type of plan they feel makes the most sense for their individual needs. I also feel that no one should be forced into purchasing health insurance, if they’re willing to assume the responsibility for their actions. What do you think?
Wiley Long is President of HSA for America, and a passionate advocate for consumer-based solutions that will improve price transparency and lower health insurance and medical costs for people purchasing individual and family health insurance plans.