ACA Health Insurance Marketplace

Association Health Plans are still a bad idea

You're probably better off with no insurance at all:

These types of plans were nixed under the Affordable Care Act, which required all insurance policies to contain 10 essential benefits and disallowed so-called “skinny” plans that provide little beyond basic catastrophic coverage, if that.

Association health plans were green-lighted again under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in October 2017, which was seen by many as a way of undermining former President Barack Obama’s ACA. But the plans also come with a host of caveats. They make some observers nervous because in the past association health plans have produced substandard policies that left some patients with big bills or skyrocketing premiums.

All insurance "pools" are a rarefied version of a Ponzi scheme, but these association health plans are even more so. There's simply not enough money in the pot to pay off all the losers if there's even a slight bump in the percentage of catastrophic health treatments, and the fact these "skinny" plans don't cover well care visits or other prophylactic measures actually increases that likelihood. Instead of fast-tracking boondoggles like this, which will likely only be tempting to those who make over the ACA subsidy threshold, the NCGA should be expanding Medicaid to cover those in the gap. And before approving AHPs, they need to wait and see how the courts and Federal government decide this issue:

NC Republicans pushing junk health insurance as alternative to ACA

The free market might just kill you if you're not careful:

The legislation would allow nonprofit organizations that have existed for at least 10 years, and which offer membership in all 100 counties, to offer their members health benefit plans. Unlike other health insurance plans and coverage offered by employers, these benefit plans wouldn’t be required to cover a minimum set of health care services. And plans could be priced at different levels so that people with pre-existing health conditions would be charged more or else not have their pre-existing conditions covered.

“It creates a false sense of security,” said Peg O’Connell, a lobbyist for a number of public health organizations, including the American Cancer Society. “If you think you’ve got insurance and you don’t, or you think you’re insured for something like cancer or heart disease. And then you file a claim and they suddenly say, ‘That was a pre-existing condition, we’re not going to cover it’ or ‘We might not cover it for a year, like we did before the Affordable Care Act was passed.’”

Honestly, I'm surprised it took them this long to come up with such an "initiative." This is not radically different than the GOP's support of payday lenders and other borderline fraudulent activities, since the responsibility for making the "proper choice" falls directly on the shoulders of those who will be suffering. That's the Republican way: Sink or swim. Of course, they're not going to be standing by to help when you start drowning, because teaching you to swim is not their true goal. Walking away from responsibility is really all they're after. But this isn't just a belief in the non-existent invisible hand, it's part of a concerted effort to destroy Obamacare once and for all:

Dale Folwell jumps on the anti-Obamacare bandwagon

Because of course he did:

The HIT is an Obamacare tax on health insurance premiums designed to help offset the cost of the tax credits for ACA exchange enrollees. Recognizing the negative impact the tax was having across the nation, Congress worked across the aisle in late 2015 to pass a bipartisan one-year moratorium on the tax for 2017, saving the health care system $21.4 billion.

Republicans were expected to tackle the HIT through the repeal of the ACA. The House-approved measure to repeal and replace the failing law and the two main Senate bills all included provisions to end this irresponsible tax. But, unfortunately, congressional lawmakers weren’t able to pass the legislation.

At its core this is a GOP "divide and conquer" tactic. Without the HIT, the funding for subsidies will disappear, immediately followed by the subsidies themselves. And millions of Americans will no longer be able to afford plans offered through the ACA Marketplace. As far as Folwell's grossly inaccurate claim about the ACA being a "failing law," it's actually he and other Republicans who are making it fail. And they will be responsible for the deaths of thousands of North Carolinians in the long run, so before any of you braniacs at SEANC decide to pat him on the back for this, step back and look at the bigger picture.

Yes, the Affordable Care Act is still in place

But Trump is making it more difficult to enroll:

You might not know it from the political rhetoric, but the Affordable Care Act is still the law. Every American is still legally required to carry health insurance or face a tax penalty of at least $695. There will still be plans available on the exchanges in every county, and the federal government will still provide the subsidies that help more than 9 million people afford their premiums.

But while much is the same, the actual sign-up process will look very different. The Trump administration has made an array of changes that, taken together, will make the process more rushed and more confusing, consumer advocates and insurance experts told STAT.

And you can bet your bottom dollar Trump and his GOP cronies in Congress will continue to chew on this like rats nibbling on an electric cable. Aside from radically shortening the window of opportunity for enrollment, they're shutting the site down nearly every Sunday during this year's period:

Republican meddling with ACA causes spike in premiums

And GOP Congressmen should be hearing about this at town halls:

Blue Cross cited several reasons for its request. One is an increase in medical costs, including for doctors fees, hospital services and medicines, which the insurer cites every year it seeks rate increases. The company also blamed the increase on a higher tax on insurers next year.

But the biggest cause is the looming elimination of “cost sharing reductions” in the Republican alternative to the ACA. These reductions offer additional subsidies on deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs to lower-income people whose household incomes are between 100 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

At the core of the Affordable Care Act was a mutual understanding between government and citizens: You pay, we'll pay. While it's far from perfect, that cooperative effort has provided millions of families with the coverage they desperately needed, while greatly reducing the amount of unpaid medical bills. Until now. Republicans claimed they were trying to make health care more affordable to citizens, but that is not even on their radar. What they're really trying to do is get rid of one side of that agreement, the government's half. And they're doing it so they can force even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy. Whether you lose your insurance, or end up paying 3 times as much for lesser coverage, that doesn't really matter to them. YOYO, as my dad used to say. You're on your own.

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