Pennsylvania health insurance reform is coming. But if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has her way, you can expect to see your Pa rates for medical coverage rise faster than you ever imagined. However, there are some alternative solutions that will cost less, expand coverage, and improve quality. Some of these ideas have been discussed and others are active in other states but not here in our state.
Five reform ideas that should be implemented (courtesy of Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Paul Howard) are:
1. Eliminate the federal tax exclusion and replace it with a tax deduction or instant tax credit. Typical savings could be used to reduce the cost of individual and family policies. Everybody would benefit by receiving quality coverage at a reduced cost. Many carriers would be available in all areas.
2. Increase and expand funding to high-risk plans so that major pre-existing conditions would be better covered. Currently, these “pools” are doing well, and by making them stronger, healthier persons may see their costs go down. By promoting wellness, long-term rates may slightly reduce, since the most costly types of surgeries and medications would decrease. Insurers could offer special inducements to customers for taking annual physicals on a regular basis.
3. Let health insurance companies sell coverage across state lines. If Pennsylvania consumers do not want or need expensive “Cadillac” plans with features they will never use, why force them to buy these plans? Maybe they could get cheaper plans elsewhere. This idea won’t make a substantial difference for most people, but it makes sense to have the option available. Highmark could market plans in Ohio, and Medical Mutual could offer coverage in the Keystone State.
4. Eliminate waste, abuse and fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Fraudulent activities cheat taxpayers out of billions of dollars each and every year, including many in Pennsylvania. Let’s take on this problem before revamping the entire system. Easily, hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved annually, with that money more efficiently utilized.
5. Enact tort reform that will end lawsuit abuse. This change would reduce the federal budget deficits by approximately $54 billion over the next 10 years. And that’s better than the ideas we have been hearing from Washington DC. A lot better.
As the owner and founder of this website, Pennsylvania’s leading resource for affordable healthcare, I sincerely support reform. But let’s do it the right way. Let’s not offer free insurance to a few and charge everyone else a fortune. Ultimately, this will simply destroy a system that 80% of the population supports.
Let’s also not bankrupt America in the process of enacting this law. I have confidence that the right decisions will be made on behalf of consumers. There seems to be increased understanding of the serious issues that face us.
UPDATES: In a few months, the Supreme Court will rule on the legality of requiring citizens to buy health insurance. I expect a close vote, but it’s too early to predict the outcome. Regardless, we hope that our delivery system stays in the hands of the free market and not elected officials. “The Affordable Care Act” has some great features (including the preventive changes) and parts of it should remain. But many portions of the bill could put excessive strain on our economy.
Another portion of Obamacare we have not discussed is the Pa small business Shop Exchange, which helps small business owners offer quality benefits to their employees. We provide specific rates and details in other portions of our website.
It’s hard to believe but the election is in less than two weeks. Mitt Romney has seized the momentum in this state and nationally. But it may not be enough. Whatever the outcome, we hope that changes to private medical plans are not made for political reasons. They should be well thought out and investigated, with the consumer’s best interest in mind.
The election, of course, has been decided and President Obama was re-elected. The Pa Health Exchange/Marketplace will be open in October for 2014 Open Enrollment. You can request to see rates at the top of the page. No word on prices yet, but within the next few months, carriers should release that information.
Obamacare has survived another Supreme Court challenge in a recent 6-3 decision. Although minor changes, tweaks, and adjustments are needed, and will certainly occur, a major overhaul is very unlikely. The ACA Legislation has helped many persons and hurt many others. But it is here to stay.
Oscar will be offering 2019 coverage in the Philadelphia area. Rates have moderately increased, and no major companies have exited the marketplace.
Our job remains the same. We will utilize all available tools and laws to help you find the most affordable health insurance plans in Pennsylvania. In the future, if legislation impacts your benefits, we will review your best options and make the appropriate recommendations.