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Washington Examiner

 

Congress Just Raised Your Health Insurance Premiums

November 11, 2009

By David Gratzer

On Saturday, the House of Representatives voted 220 to 215 for the ObamaCare bill. President Obama called it “our moment to deliver.” And deliver they did: The final bill is on track to deliver higher premiums for your health insurance, just as critics of the bill predicted when the first draft was tabled. The cause - insurance mandates.

Think of mandates as the earmarks of the health-care world. For decades, state legislators rewarded health-provider lobbyists with laws forcing every health-insurance policy to cover certain services, even if most policyholders won’t ever use them. Their excuse was that doing so helps consumers by setting a “basic standard” for insurance.

And so it came to pass that circumcision must be covered as an essential health-insurance benefit in New Mexico, just as you’re covered there for “oriental medicine” whether you’re of German, Peruvian or Somali ancestry.

In 15 states, every plan must cover in vitro fertilization – even if the policyholder is a single, gay, 55-year-old man. New York has 51 such mandates; Minnesota, 68. Utah residents somehow survive with only 29. Tellingly, for a 30-year-old man, basic coverage in New York costs up to three or four times more than basic policies in neighboring, mandate-lite Connecticut.

At first glance, mandates sound good for patients. In fact, most mandates are a gift to providers and, ultimately, big insurance companies. Maryland’s smoking cessation mandate means every insurer can legally charge every state policyholder as if they might choose to quit smoking, even if they never started in the first place.

National Institute of Health Statistics data in 2002 showed that only 4% of Americans had been treated with acupuncture in their entire lives – yet that didn’t stop California from imposing an acupuncture mandate. And each new mandate raises the standard for basic minimum coverage, indirectly increasing the cost of public health care to taxpayers.

Now, mandate fever is spreading to Capitol Hill. Thanks to ObamaCare, federal bureaucrats may soon be empowered to create federal health-insurance mandates. Congress couldn’t resist adding a few of their own as a preview.

The amended ObamaCare House bill now includes a mandate for prosthetics and orthotics equipment. Tuberculosis doesn’t merit a special line, but somewhere, a congressional representative felt foot care deserved a billion dollar mention in public law.

If you happen to meet someone who’s bouncing in ergonomic-running shoes in the future, smile – because you might just be paying for them through your health insurance.

How long before the tooth-bleach industry claims whiter teeth are an essential national medical benefit? In the past, insurers had to create new insurance products to attract selected patient groups.

Now, thanks to government micromanagement of health insurance, it will be easier to simply show up to Capitol Hill and stick every American with the tab. The only good news is that ObamaCare’s bureaucracy is so unwieldy, the new rules don’t take effect until 2013.

When a French general saw the deal that ended the First World War, he cruelly – and correctly – predicted that “this isn’t a peace treaty; it’s an armistice for 20 years.” Since the House just passed a bill to raise the cost of health care for family and federal budgets alike, this “reform” doesn’t meet the goals set out by the White House months ago.

Once Americans see the cost of care grow despite months of hype about reform, the health care war will start all over again. Unless the Senate chooses to stop the costly spread of mandate fever in the ObamaCare law, this “reform” package is a health-care armistice for four years, not 20.

Original Source: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Manhattan-Moment/Manhattan-Moment-Congress-just-raised-your-health-insurance-premiums-69771592.html

 

 
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