Monday, July 21, 2014

Obamacare versus Pence

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 9:04 AM

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I have a friend who is undergoing cancer treatments. She doesn’t have a regular job and her health care is being covered by a COBRA plan. Last fall she checked into Indiana’s fledgling insurance exchange, set up under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but found the options there too expensive.

The good news for my friend is that come November, when Indiana’s health insurance exchange reopens, there will be more options available — some of which may cost significantly less than what was on offer the last time around. More on this in a moment.

Not all the news regarding health insurance in Indiana is good. As the ACA is unpacked and better understood, it becomes increasingly clear just how destructive to Hoosiers like my friend Gov. Mike Pence’s political hostility to the law (he compared it to the terrorist attacks on 9/11) is turning out to be.

Pence, you will recall, has rejected the federal government’s offer to pay for a significant Medicaid expansion. He claims it will cost Hoosiers in the long run, though plenty of numbers crunchers have shown this is probably untrue, that the state could actually save money by making sure a maximum number of folks get the care they need.

Pence has also allowed for the extension of health plans that fail to comply with ACA requirements for minimum benefits.
Both decisions appear to have more to do with sabotaging the ACA than with providing people with affordable health care deals. By failing to expand the Medicaid pool, Pence has managed to drive many individuals who are in chronic need of care to the exchange, forcing for-profit insurers to raise their rates. At the same time, extension of noncompliant plans has discouraged younger, healthier customers from increasing the exchange’s numbers of low risk clients.

It’s a double whammy for individuals trying to shop the ACA exchange in Indiana. Nicely played, Guv!

In spite of this, new insurers are still being attracted to our exchange. Five companies will be joining in November, more than doubling the current group of four.

Since Indiana is hellbent on making the ACA harder, rather than easier, to implement, this increase doesn’t necessarily mean that all rates will be lower; many will actually be going up.

But some new entrants, like CareSource, a 25-year-old nonprofit provider that prides itself on keeping its administrative costs low, appear to be ready to offer customers real savings. In short, anyone looking for coverage needs to shop around. What’s encouraging is that there will be more options to choose from.

That the ACA has flaws is undeniable. But as time passes, it also becomes increasingly clear that, given a good-faith effort, the law not only works, it can work better. If only our elected politicians were as interested in my friend’s getting the coverage she needs, as in burnishing their conservative credentials.




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