“Hope” you are ready for “Change”

Prepare your clients. Prepare yourselves. The health care reform law moves into full implementation January 1, 2014. What this means to Ohioans is much more significant than in other states. Gone from today will be medical underwriting, pre-existing conditions, and a large age banding system. In with guaranteed issue, community rating, expanded benefits (including maternity whether you want it or not), potential government subsidies (based on income), and a marketplace to purchase individual insurance that is designed to be “as easy as purchasing an airline ticket.” – Kathleen Sebelius.

Some (old and ill) will see reductions in premiums and others will now be able to purchase when they couldn’t purchase before. Nobody can be declined due to the cancer they were diagnosed with on December 31st when they enroll on January 1st. And all preventive care and contraceptives are free (not really, they are still priced into the premiums). These are the sound bites you are hearing today. All warm and fuzzy and things that we want to have as a caring and free society. Nobody wants to see pain, whether it be physical, mental, or financial, inflicted on anyone.

The reality of PPACA though is much different. The net result will be higher premiums for the majority of our population. Costs to operate insurance marketplaces will result in 3.5% additional premiums. Insurance companies face a $63 per covered person tax that will obviously be passed on to the consumer. Subsidies will fall short of expectations and many will still go without insurance. They will do so either because they still can’t afford it, aren’t educated about it, or simply know that paying the Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax is less than the cost of the premiums.

I’m writing this because I am a pissed off professional health insurance broker. Since 2008 we have been told that health care costs need to be reduced. We have been told that big greedy insurance companies and brokers are the cause of these high costs. Government has demonized my profession as unethical and unnecessary. They sold an entire country on the premise that your insurance premiums would be lowered by $2500 per family if we just got everyone to buy insurance and then limit the amount insurance companies can spend on administration and make in profits.

Now it is time to call bullshit. Professional health insurance brokers knew it then and they still know it now. The so called health care reform law was never about lowering your costs. The proof is still to come but studies done by multiple sources, including several of those Health Policy experts who helped write the law are all pointing in the same direction. Health insurance premiums continue to rise because they aren’t the cause rather the effect. Insurance is simply the means to pay for the cause. Care is what makes costs rise. Mandating benefits and giving generous subsidies won’t lower the cause or the effect. All these do is enhance the cost.

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