July 16, 2009

IBD: Individual Private Health Insurance Illegal Under House Bill

MedicalSymbolThis post proves the point, as if it even needs to be proven, that you have to go to the editorial pages of publications like the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily to get yours news when leftists are in control of the government.

When the topic is statist health care, that’s doubly true.

IBDeditorials.com got to Page 16 of the House’s health care bill, did the investigative work the establishment media was either too lazy to do — or worse, other outlets did the work and didn’t think readers should know what IBD found.

Yesterday afternoon, IBD laid the following bombshell on its readers (HT to dscott; I also heard Rush mention this a short time ago; bolds after title are mine):

It’s Not An Option

Congress: It didn’t take long to run into an “uh-oh” moment when reading the House’s “health care for all Americans” bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of “Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage,” the “Limitation On New Enrollment” section of the bill clearly states:

“Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day” of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won’t be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

From the beginning, opponents of the public option plan have warned that if the government gets into the business of offering subsidized health insurance coverage, the private insurance market will wither.

….. What wasn’t known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law.

….. The public option won’t be an option for many, but rather a mandate for buying government care. A free people should be outraged at this advance of soft tyranny.

As I commented to dscott earlier today, “So Obama’s definition of a ‘level playing field’ is one where his private competitors can’t get any new customers.”

The fact that little old IBD (no offense, guys, but I know your resources are relatively thin) had to find and investigate all of this on its own should be a cause for shame in every major newsroom in America. More than likely, it is not.

Yes, the House bill writers really tried to obfuscate their handiwork. It’s very easy to breeze over “does not” without realizing that it really means “cannot.” But IBD caught it, and hundreds of other supposed “real journalists” did not.

Here is all of what the Associated Press had to say about health care legislation at 2:37 this afternoon (saved here at host):

The overall House bill, which would cover around 94 percent of non-elderly residents, would create a government-run plan to compete with private insurers, require individuals to get insurance and large companies to provide it and tax the wealthiest Americans.

….. The Senate health panel’s $615 billion measure would require individuals to get health insurance and employers to contribute to the cost. The bill calls for the government to provide financial assistance with premiums for individuals and families making up to four times the federal poverty level, or about $88,000 for a family of four, a broad cross-section of the middle class.

I guess the end of new individual private insurance wasn’t that important.

Somebody at the AP, AFP, Reuters, other wires, the New York Times, the Washington Post, all major newspapers, the alphabet news channels (including Fox in this case), and so many other self-important establishment media outlets needs to explain to the public they supposedly serve why they didn’t detect and investigate what IBD found.

They can’t. Consumers of meaningful news, be advised. If you’re not reading IBD’s and WSJ’s editorials, there’s a high chance you’re not truly informed. If you rely on the rest of the establishment media, there’s a high chance you’re misinformed.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: The liars at a site that deserves no link in this post claim that a bill summary provided by the House says that “the Health Insurance Exchange “creates a transparent and functional marketplace for individuals and small employers to comparison shop among private and public insurers.”

It doesn’t mean a bleeping thing what the “summary” says. It’s what the LAW says. And the law says that you’ve got to go through a government-run “health insurance exchange” when you do things in your life that require you to change your health carrier (leave your job to start a business, etc.).

The very existence and anticipated intervention of a government-run “Heath Insurance Exchange” ends the ability of a private individual or family to buy an individual/family policy directly, with no intervention, from a private insurer. The most effective health insurance exchange ever concocted, known as the free choice free market, won’t exist.

Thus, IBD is right; individual private insurance will be illegal under the House bill.

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30 Comments

  1. Despite what Investor’s Business Daily says, there will still be private options available. For how long, I don’t know — my gut feeling is that they’ll fade pretty fast — but on page 19 you can see this is the case:

    (1) IN 1 GENERAL.—Individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-participating health benefits plan.

    The Health Insurance Exchange is defined thusly:

    ESTABLISHMENT.—There is established within the Health Choices Administration and under the direction of the Commissioner a Health Insurance Exchange in order to facilitate access of individuals and employers, hrough a transparent process, to a variety of choices of affordable, quality health insurance coverage, including a public health insurance option.

    Doesn’t make this stinker any better, though….

    Comment by Brutarius — July 16, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  2. I’m not surprised at all, it’s just as many of us suspected. Kudos to IBD for finding the smoking gun and thanks Tom for bringing it to our attention here.

    Comment by zf — July 16, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

  3. The House bill does not make private health insurance illegal.

    The bill does add various legal requirements for health insurance, for example, that they not withhold coverage from individuals with pre-existing conditions. Instead of simply immediately requiring that all insurers change their structures and conditions, the bill allows existing coverage schemes to be grandfathered in.

    Thus, if you already have an individual plan that excludes people with pre-existing conditions, you can keep that plan. But new enrollees cannot choose that plan. New enrollees can enroll in individual plans, but they will have to meet the new requirements.

    In short, the editorial is, at best, extremely misleading.

    Whatever you do, don’t bother to let the facts get in the way of a good fear-mongering rumor!

    Comment by Pither — July 16, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

  4. How many times do Conservatives have to be proven right about these economic terrorists before the sheeple either believe us before the fact, or even begin pay attention! Somehow, “I told you so!” alone doesn’t seem to capture the prophet-like prescience of Conservatives regarding the ultraleftists’ appetite for power.

    Comment by Joe C. — July 16, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  5. #3, bring it up with the people IBD confirmed the information with in the House (“we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee”). Until then, your rumor-mongering charge is a POS (Petty Obamalike Smear).

    Comment by TBlumer — July 16, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

  6. #4, nor does the term “Orwellian” seem to suffice at times like these.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 16, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  7. My quick reading of the law is that after it goes into effect, federal law will require (superseding state law?) all individual insurance to meet its requirements, including guaranteed issue, no more than a 2-1 difference in premium due to age, and coverage of mental health and drug abuse treatment. The net effect is that, absent mandatory enrollment, coverage will be too expensive for most people, particularly the young. Then, the number of people who elect no coverage will be used to say there’s still a crisis, and demand more government intervention!

    I prefer mandatory coverage, underwritten, with premium accurately reflecting risk due to age and sex, plus a risk pool for the uninsurable, with a basic policy subsized for those with low income.

    Comment by Greg — July 16, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

  8. Blumer got it right. IBD’s “resources are relatively thin.”
    http://mediamatters.org/research/200907160040

    But Blumer missed the fact that the doctors climbed on board today:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-HealthcareReform/idUSTRE56F5W120090716

    Comment by Tony B. — July 16, 2009 @ 10:58 pm

  9. #8, oh, it’s this site’s DOLT (Designated Obama Licker Tony) again.

    IBD, who with thin resources runs circles around more well-endowed entities, is right, as usual.

    MM is wrong. YOU are wrong. When a person leaves a company to start his own business, he won’t be able to buy individual coverage through an individual insurer, he will only be able to buy coverage as part of a group through a “cooperative.”

    What about this verbiage at MM ….

    “but only through the Exchange and subject to those regulations”

    …. don’t you understand?

    Thus the headline is right: In the example cited, private health insurance — a private person buying health insurance for himself and/or his family from an individual private insurance company — will be illegal.

    Mark Levin is right. Rush is right. MM is wrong, and, as usual, YOU are wrong.

    The AMA’s apparatchiks don’t speak for the medical profession any more than the ABA speaks for all lawyers or the AARP speaks for all retired people.

    You have, as usual, no point to make. Which is why you’re this site’s DOLT.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 16, 2009 @ 11:18 pm

  10. #8, Hey, DOLT (Designated Obama Licker Tony [or is it Toni?]), you have to at least try to say something substantive to have a comment posted here; your last attempt contained no substance. MM is the place for childish comments. Or perhaps your own blog, where you can commune with like-minded DOLTs (Dumb Obama-Licking Trolls).

    Comment by TBlumer — July 17, 2009 @ 12:29 am

  11. IDB is wrong. It misrepresented the language, which only applied to the definition of “grandfathered” health insurance. The word is in the section IBD cited, but IDB didn’t mention that fact.

    Here’s what Mike Kennedy, a very economics-savvy free-market favoring M.D. and no fan of Obamacare, says about the bill:

    In fact what will happen is that employers will be between an 8% tax and a much higher cost for employee insurance plans. They will dump the employees and those individuals will have nowhere to go but into the exchanges which will quickly consist of one choice, Obamacare.

    While the end result will be the same — no private health insurance — it is not being made illegal, just uneconomical.

    We have to be extremely accurate, because any mistakes by critics of Obamacare can and will be used to discredit all opposition.

    Comment by Bradley J. Fikes — July 17, 2009 @ 12:32 am

  12. Also, it pains me to disagree with Tom, but I hope he realizes my heart is in the right place.

    Comment by Bradley J. Fikes — July 17, 2009 @ 12:34 am

  13. #11, yours is. His isn’t. All you’d have to do is read what doesn’t get posted here to know.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 17, 2009 @ 1:19 am

  14. Tom, I don’t doubt you for a minute. I’ve seen more than my share of obnoxious commentators and outright trolls.

    Comment by Bradley J. Fikes — July 17, 2009 @ 1:25 am

  15. Y’all are quibbling over something that doesn’t matter, which is exactly what the leftists want. All the contradictory provisions and language is intended to obfuscate their intentions so that they can always point to something that refutes reason and rationality.

    This still has to pass the House, Senate, Conference, then House and Senate again, Comment period, and Rules written by unelected bureaucrats. This is the important phase because, if there is one thing we have learned from the last 2+ years of economic terrorism, it’s that, regardless of laws or constitutionality, their plan is to bleed the private sector dry before killing it.

    The final bill/law will be written to sound like it allows for whatever will get it passed, and trumpeted by the state-run Media as historic. Then, in practice, all bets are off. The ultimate result, however, will be the death of any semblance of a private insurance market then total control of health care and 20% of the economy, which is their intention all along.

    Comment by Joe C. — July 17, 2009 @ 8:04 am

  16. Oh…and BTW, AGW/Climate change legislation is designed to take over the other 80%. Just so you know.

    Comment by Joe C. — July 17, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  17. #15 and #16, thank you.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 17, 2009 @ 8:55 am

  18. Notice how we are subjected to the liberal mantra that the current health care system is broken and we have debated the idea for 40 years as THEE reason to change.

    How is it broken? I have health insurance via a cobra plan because I’m unemployed, I make my monthly payments, I have access to health care when I need it, even at my age I don’t need it often. The observed facts say the system works for the majority of users.

    Just because liberals have wanted to change the system for 40 years doesn’t mean it’s time has come, it means the majority have rejected their ideas for 40 years because they are BAD.

    We need to trumpet the facts why health care increases above the level of inflation. That reason is mostly because of Medicare and Medicaid forcing private health insurance and medical providers to increasingly pay more of the GOVERNMENT’S share of their obligation! Given the demographics, even with the increasing forced cost shifting by the government onto the private sector the government projected costs are ramping up into the trillions. In other words the government can not keep it’s promises regarding the current level of health care. Now Obama and the Dems want everyone eventually to be on a government health care plan? Even you libs who accept that 2 + 2 = 5 on faith from your leaders must realize that it stretches credulity to accept the new answer to be 3 trillion (over 10 years or 300 billion/year). That is thee latest estimate derived out of the CBO to cover the so called 47 million uninsured under the Kennedy plan. You can play with the numbers all you want but in the end to insure each person with a modest plan it costs roughly $6000/year, now multiply that by the number you claim are uninsured. 47,000,000 x $6,000 = $270,000,000,000/year ($270 billion) So the real issue becomes from where does this money come from? Not from the rich because that’s more than they make a year. You would have to charge every employed person $2000 a year to provide this coverage because that’s where taxes come from, the employed. Or you could cut government spending by that amount. You see how simple it becomes if you actually believe the uninsured are the issue, but they are not as demonstrated by the convoluted 1,000 plus pages of this bill before Congress. The bottom line however is we already pay that $2000 a year for the uninsured so why change the system to tidy the accounting? No, there is a hidden agenda and that is extending government control, it is NOT the public welfare.

    You know anything is possible, even the $300 billion/year if the Dems declare a peace dividend like Clinton did. I wrote about this quite some time back: http://www.publiusforum.com/2008/01/07/do-we-really-understand-democrats/ My friends, acquaintances and enemies, the end game of all of this is votes to stay in power, and the means of financing will be the Dems accepting the idea that some government spending has to be cut to meet this national priority, therefore the military budget will be the means to that end. Mark my words.

    Comment by dscott — July 17, 2009 @ 9:53 am

  19. Abortion will also become a covered item under insurance:
    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/hidden-within-obamacare-an-abortion-mandate/

    Just like in RomneyCare which is sinking Taxachuettes, once the government meddles in mandating any kind of insurance under whatever guise, they have the right to mandate the level of coverage. In doing so, the cost of coverage of necessity must go UP to add in all the goodies that weren’t covered before.

    BTW- speaking of RomneyCare…http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/us/16hospital.html?_r=2

    You see what I mean about cost shifting of government responsibility to the private sector via under reimbursing? The State’s excuse? You have money we don’t.

    State officials have suggested that Boston Medical could reduce costs by operating more efficiently. The state has also pointed out that the hospital has reserves of about $190 million, but Tom Traylor, the hospital’s vice president of federal and state programs, said the reserves could only sustain the hospital for about a year.

    “The magnitude of the loss here can’t be solved on the program-cutting or expense-cutting side,” Mr. Traylor said. Professor Parmet said the hospital’s dissatisfaction with the new law should be a warning to Congress that “insurance alone doesn’t solve the problems” of the health care system. In fact, she said, it might exacerbate the financial problems of safety-net hospitals in the short term.

    Gold plated health insurance + poor = Bankruptcy

    A modest plan, i.e. catastrophic coverage w/o abortion and other social engineering mandates, would be doable, but that doesn’t fit in the libs agenda.

    Comment by dscott — July 17, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  20. #18, your final prediction is about as safe as the sun rising. Cutting the military is an easy-short term way to prosperity/recovery. There are many other ways to eat the proverbial seed corn that Clinton engaged in, esp during his earlier years, to prop up the economy before the GOP got things on the largely right track in 1995-1997.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 17, 2009 @ 10:59 am

  21. #19, I’ve been meaning to get to the news that a Boston hospital (group of them, I think) is suing the state of MA because RomneyCare is bankrupting them. See yesterday’s Globe or NYT. It was up on Drudge yesterday.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 17, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  22. For anyone interested, this IBD claim has been refuted here:

    http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2009/07/well-it-is-sort-of-an-option.html

    http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/81987/

    Comment by Al on Main — July 17, 2009 @ 11:47 pm

  23. #22, What’s at Instapundit and McGuire’s place does no such thing. After a life event that causes you to have to look for new coverage, you HAVE to buy it through ONE exchange from a PRESELECTED list. You have LOST your right to enter into a private contract with whomever you find suitable that happens to be in the business. Further, you are more than likely entering into a contract as a member of a group with the exchange, NOT an individual contract.

    The worst that can be said of IBD is that they didn’t go into all of the gory bureaucratic details in the space available. The fact is, as I said in Comment 9, “In the example cited, private health insurance — a private person buying health insurance for (only) himself and/or his family from an individual private insurance company — will be illegal.” That stands.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 18, 2009 @ 12:03 am

  24. #22, it also appears that nobody is disputing a pretty important sentence from IBD: “Those who currently have private individual coverage won’t be able to change it.” IOW, you’re locked in. If you leave, you have to go to the government exchange. I wonder what happens if you let it lapse for a month or two?

    Comment by TBlumer — July 18, 2009 @ 12:14 am

  25. I still think IBD got it wrong, and while I’m not certain what Obama’s Health Insurance Exchanges will look like, I first read about the concept at Heritage, and it is a good one.
    http://www.heritage.org/research/healthcare/wm1230.cfm

    Comment by Al on Main — July 18, 2009 @ 9:29 pm

  26. #25, there is potential for health insurance exchanges as put forth at Heritage, but:
    - there’s NOTHING in there about a “public option” that disrupts and de-levels the playing field.
    - there’s NOTHING in there about punitive penalties for not having insurance.
    - there’s NOTHING in there about people not having freedom of choice if they have some kind of voluntary or involuntary life event (layoff, new job, etc.).
    - there’s NOTHING in there about exit and entry barriers to insurance carriers.

    All four items listed ARE in ObamaCare, and ruin it irretrievably.

    I should also add that Mitt Romney is alleged to have co-opted Heritage’s reputation by “a$king” it to come up with a concoction on his behalf that he could use to justify state-run health care. And they did. And it’s CommonwealthCare aka RomneyCare. And it stinks.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 19, 2009 @ 8:18 am

  27. While your points may be valid, they don’t change the fact that IBD got this one wrong.

    Comment by Al on Main — July 19, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

  28. #27, nope. IBD got it right. If they made a mistake, it was only to forget to say “not for everyone right away.” BFD.

    I’ll retract when they do. Keep me posted.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 19, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

  29. They retracted.

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=333069697522201

    Comment by artmayes167 — July 24, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  30. #29, the author of the IBD item is HENRY WAXMAN, and it’s an op-ed. IBD gave him the courtesy of space, and then specifically refuted him in its follow-up editorial:

    Waxman, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also claims the legislation “will create a transparent insurance marketplace,” apparently unaware that government cannot create a market. The government can create coalitions of private companies, which are eventually co-opted by the state. And it has given itself the power to seize private companies, as with General Motors.

    But it cannot fabricate a market. Anyone who thinks it can, does not know how markets work.

    A true market is the sum of the voluntary choices of consumers and sellers acting on their own, free of government coercion. A market cannot be created or managed by one man or woman, or a team of bureaucrats, even with the help of a large staff by Washington standards working around the clock.
    Anything that is primarily steered by the hand of the government rather than the price signals that free markets so efficiently process on a daily basis would be an agency of the state.

    Are you deliberately wasting my time, or did you really think Henry Waxman speaks for IBD?

    IBD seems to stand for “Isn’t Backing Down.” You may have noticed that I’m not doing so either.

    Comment by TBlumer — July 24, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

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