I have always heard from people I know and respect that Senator Ted Cruz is really smart (even though, outside of his immediate family, he is intensely disliked). Of course, the same was said about Newt Gingrich who, prior to his most recent ravings about having President Obama dragged in front of Congress, thought we should be colonizing Mars, but I digress. So, Ted’s new idea on health insurance shows either he isn’t so bright or he is just isn’t willing to acknowledge the fact that we have a lot of people today covered by health insurance who weren’t before. His idea is that insurers could offer other policies as long as they offered an Obamacare compliant policy meaning a policy that limited differential premiums for those with pre-existing conditions, unlimited lifetime benefits, and certain coverages that included pregnancy, child birth and physical examinations. People could have a choice about which policy they want. In this way, so goes Tedcare, individual choice is paramount and our freedom is preserved. Sounds pretty good – except that it is a terrible idea guaranteed to provide sick people with unaffordable insurance and others with very little coverage, although with lower premiums. Let me explain what happens in the real world. This is not a theory. This is what happens when you do something like this.
First of all, the policies offered in lieu of Obamacare will provide limited coverage. Pre-existing conditions will either be uncovered or barely so. The other policies will be offered only for healthy people and the Obamacare policies will be like the old “guaranteed issue” policies I described in an earlier blog. The people with claims and illnesses requiring treatment will stay in the Obamacare policies which will become unaffordable. Other people who would like policies that offer complete coverage will lose that option because they will become unaffordable to them as well. The result will be uninsured people who are sick and under-insured people who are healthy. This is exactly the situation that existed before. So, it is not a fix; it is simply a return to what we had pre-2009 which offered very little to those people who did not have coverage from their employer.
In Florida, many years ago, when auto insurance became required along with the passage of a “no-fault” law, so-called PIP or personal injury protection, was required. Soon, some insurers came out with a policy that was very cheap. It was a policy that offered $10,000 in PIP coverage, but it had an $8,000 deductible. Most claims never got past the deductible and rarely hit the $18,000 amount that would’ve been the policy limit, thus the insurance was cheap, complied with law and gave no protection to the driver or the person hurt in the accident. This is what we will get with Tedcare.
So, as we realize the real conversation that frankly no one wants to have is being ignored, maybe someone will honestly address the concern that exists. What is the role of government in making health insurance affordable and accessible? Let’s not act like it will be included in any of the ideas being floated in an attempt to get 50 Republican votes in the Senate. How about Democrats coming up with a plan? How about Republicans who want to limit government involvement in insurance be honest about it? At least Rand Paul is willing to be open about his approach. Instead of Tedcare, let’s be honest about what we want for America and not continue to be too clever by half.