I can only conclude that Bill Clinton is very much a flip flopper, much like Mitt Romney, more interested in pandering to a political base.
I am very disappointed in Mr. Clinton – I thought he was above such political hi jinks, but apparently I was wrong.
Yes, Barack Obama broke one of the main tenets of political life. When he made that famous promise: “If you like your current plan, you can keep it,” he spoke in absolutes – a definite political gaffe. And now it has come back to bite him big time.
He should have said, “If you like your current plan and it meets the minimum standards of the new law, you can keep it.”
I can’t get into the head of Barack Obama, but my guess is that he didn't lie as much as he did not understand consequences of what would happen when the law changed and substandard policies could not survive the law. He and the people around him should have known better.
But, for now, let's put that aside and discuss why the President cannot afford to keep his promise.
The short answer: if millions of substandard plans are allowed to remain in effect, you might as well repeal the Affordable Health. PERIOD.
The premise behind health care for all involves spreading around the risk among the healthy, not so healthy, severely ill, young, middle aged, elderly. That way, the sickest people are not the only people enrolled in health care plans, thus spreading around costs for all plan participants.
Social Security and Medicare are good examples of this premise; U.S. workers (and even foreigners who work in this country for at least 40 quarters or 10 years) are required to pay into these programs. It doesn't matter that young people can't collect or even that some people die before they become of age to collect. These programs were set up so that senior citizens would enjoy at least a small old-age pension to adjunct their regular pension or 401K through work. Before Social Security and Medicare, the elderly were pretty much on their own or became burdens to their children and society.
It would have been much simpler had Medicare been extended to all and taxed accordingly, but the insurance lobbies would not have stood for that, and the GOP and some conservative Dems were more than happy to pander to them.
So we ended up with this imperfect compromise.
Still, Barack Obama should hang tough, defend his plan, and sees how it unfolds.
However, if he does cave, here is a clause that should be placed in every substandard insurance policy (one that does not meet the letter of the law):
I, the under insured, promise that, if my plan does not cover fully my medical and hospital bills, I will be responsible for all such bills not covered by my insurance. I promise to offer my luxury items, my home, and car as collateral, to be confiscated in the event that I do not meet my medical financial obligations. Furthermore, I am aware and accept that such debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy [similar to government-backed student loans].
I accept these terms in return for choosing to keep my substandard plan.
I wonder how many young “invincibles” would accept such draconian terms?
Of course, this kind of clause will not likely be placed in insurance policies, but it does show that young uninsured or under-insured “invincibles” occasionally become ill or suffer catastrophic injuries, and when they do, they often skip out on their medical bills and become moochers on society.
Currently, for the uninsured, the tax penalties are small (for 2014, $95 per adult) but are due to increase significantly by 2016 ($695 or 2.5% of income per person). I would like to see this amount raised with fees going into an uninsured fund.
I would like to see the problems solved – and soon. We need the Affordable Health Care Act.
Let's give the President the benefit of the doubt and work toward implementing this law so that all can have reasonably priced health care.
November 14, 2013 UPDATE: President Obama announced today that insurance companies, under the “grandfathering” provision, would be able to extend for one year their existing substandard policies to their healthcare customers.
However, no new substandard plans would be allowed to be offered; this would “undermine” the premise behind Obamneycare.
It is not clear if insurance companies would be required to reinstate these policies, so it is quite possible that existing customers really do not have a choice anyway, that reinstatement would be at the pleasure of the insurance companies.
This poor decision is yet another chip out of Obamneycare, and its ultimate failure is quite likely.
Feel free to comment.