“Millions of people facing the cancellation of health insurance policies will be allowed to buy catastrophic coverage and will be exempt from penalties if they go without insurance next year, the White House said Thursday night.”
“Another Rule in Health Law is Scaled Back,” New York Times, Robert Pear
Look at the language here. First the ACA requires that you buy health insurance. Not only that, the policy you buy must be ACA-compliant, and you have to pay a fine through the IRS if you don’t comply by a certain deadline. Lastly, when things don’t work out so well, the government starts to jigger the rules around, in order to keep the whole building from falling into a sinkhole. In good bureaucratic fashion, these modifications involve exemptions, adjustments, and extensions: all the language we love from the tax code. As a result., we have endless rules about:
- Who is exempt from the requirement to purchase.
- Who is exempt from penalties imposed if you don’t purchase.
- What policies meet the ACA’s requirements.
- What policies meet the ACA’s modified requirements, but only for now.
- What deadlines you must meet to comply with the temporary requirements.
- What penalties accrue if you don’t comply with the temporary requirements.
As with the tax code, no one knows just what the rules are. You just know that you’re in trouble if you don’t follow them. People rightly want health insurance to be in the background. They don’t want to deal with it front-and-center in their lives, day after day. Welcome into my home, Kathleen Sebelius! Welcome to my computer screen! I will now spend hours and hours trying to figure out your new rules, so I don’t get into trouble. I will spend hours and hours trying to replace a policy I was perfectly happy to have, but that my insurer cancelled because it didn’t comply with your rules. Welcome to the ACA.
Look at the situation of a person who purchases health insurance on the individual market. In September 2013, you have a policy that you like, and the president’s assurance you can keep it. On this matter of keeping your health insurance, the president doesn’t speak for himself. He speaks for the Democratic Party, for the Congress, for the Executive Branch, for the entire government, and for that matter, the entire health insurance industry as well. So when he lies about a something like whether or not you can keep your health insurance, it’s a big lie.
Then you receive a letter from your insurance company to notify you that your health insurance policy is cancelled because it does not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s requirements. WTF?! You check around, and you find out a lot of other people have received the same letter. The president says okay, you can keep your cancelled policy through the end of next year. Then you have to buy a compliant one. The health insurers say sorry, it’s too late: we can’t really restore cancelled policies. Even if we could restore them, health insurance regulators in our states wouldn’t let us.
Then the president says, “Okay, you can go without insurance during the upcoming year, and we won’t impose a fine on you because we’ve granted you a hardship exemption.” You go from happily insured, with a policy you know you can keep, to being an uninsured hardship exemption who doesn’t have to pay a fine for one year! How about that? Thank you so much, Mr. President, for your consideration!
What is next? A fiat that orders insurance companies to sell ACA-compliant policies for amounts that don’t cover costs? Remember that the president is proud his health care reform is based on market principles and market mechanisms. That means we can all be confident that our health care will be affordable, and that the government will patiently protect us. What more can possibly go wrong here? The worst glitches in the rollout are over, right?
It’s going to get a lot worse. Unless the president concedes defeat, and he will not do that, you will see the collapse of huge piece of legislation. The outcome will be state-run health care, which was the ACA’s intent in the first place. If the president doesn’t concede defeat, we will have state-run health care that is just terrible. You want to see confusion? Here, I have some good seats for you at the fifty yard line. Watch what happens next.
Incompetent, unreliable, and dishonest: those three adjectives describe pretty well what we’ve seen so far. What is the best way to proceed in this debacle, where in 2010 the feds claimed authority and competence to run the country’s health care, then failed spectacularly? Try civil disobedience from people the government has declared hardship exemptions, individuals government has betrayed the most, so far.
Civil disobedience only works when its leaders have full support from others. If we can gather that kind of support, individuals who have seen their policies cancelled can look after their interests, which are also our interests, and forget about complying with an incomprehensible, freedom devouring, ever changing law. We have seen it already with the IRS, and we will see it again with the ACA. Not one of us will escape the health care morass if we try to comply with the flood of picayune regulations on the way. This regulatory regime will draw all of us further and further in, as we pay more and more to receive less and less.
Make this law collapse soon, for lack of support. We have numerous clear proposals in hand, to launch practical arrangements that can take its place. We need to identify ways to stand up for ourselves.