Speaking about the Senate bill's likely effect on insurers, the head of Harvard Pilgrim in MA laid out the likely results of the "reform" that passed today:
From the look of the finished product, most of the deals involved were unrelated to health reform, since the changes to the bill itself were marginal. The individual requirement to purchase has been tweaked, but still fails to ensure that individuals cannot delay buying coverage until they need it. ...So, to recap:
The flawed structure of the bill is therefore retained, which means that expansion of eligibility and other reforms are largely delayed to 2014, but changes having the effect of increasing health insurance premiums will take effect prior to 2014. ...
It is a shame that the bill has to be structured in this way, but it is a direct result of expanding eligibility and benefits, imposing health system taxes to pay for it, and ignoring the health care cost problem. ...
Imagine how this plays in Massachusetts, where the insurance market is already reformed, the cost of health insurance is already high, and the major health plans are
not-for-profits. The impact of federal health reform will be little more than higher premiums.
- The bill foists new costs upon already bankrupt systems without meaningful ways of paying for them. (The cuts in Medicare will not be made, certainly not at the levels required to actually pay for the Senate bill's expansion.)
- The bill requires insurers to cover everyone, but effectively allows individuals to not buy health insurance until they're sick, thereby driving up insurance costs exponentially.
- The bill provides for subsidies for "low-income" individuals (defined as "people who aren't really poor, but will be once they have to pay all the taxes to cover this health care expansion") to buy insurance, subsidies which will cost everyone more money in the form of higher taxes.
- The bill does absolutely nothing to contain rising health care costs: THE #1 REASON WHY PEOPLE LACK INSURANCE.
(That last point bears repeating by the way. THIS BILL WILL DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO FIX THE BIGGEST PROBLEM BEHIND WHY PEOPLE HAVE NO HEALTH INSURANCE. IN FACT, IT WILL MAKE THAT PROBLEM MUCH, MUCH WORSE.)Excellent. Really -- well done, Democrats.
If you don't piss off voters so much that they actually force their representatives to repeal this horrible bill, you'll have all-but-guaranteed that the US will have single-payer health care in less than a generation. By then, the system will be so profoundly broken by the madness within this bill -- the expansions of already bankrupt programs (Medicare and Medicaid) foisted upon a system with endemic runaway costs -- that people will likely turn to single-payer as the only solution.