The naivety I had witnessed during the Clinton Wars was still in force. Many of us tried to warn the industry that they would regret this arrangement. Yes, they might be assured of modest profits, but the cost of sacrificing their autonomy would be far too high. They would become little more than public utilities. They would lose all control over benefit design, marketing practices, and rate setting. They would have no idea of the risks they were enrolling and would have to set premiums blindly.
It has become much, much worse than I ever imagined. Obamacare is not even fully in effect yet and already we are seeing the President playing with the carriers like a toddler plays with toy trucks –
- Employers will be mandated to buy your policies for 2014
- (Oops, employers are angry)
- Employers won’t be mandated until 2015 – if then
- Small employers will give workers a choice of health plans through the SHOP program in 2014
- (Oops, we can’t get the web site ready in time)
- Small employers won’t have to offer a choice of plan until – sometime later
- You must cancel these individual policies
- (Oops, public backlash)
- You must reinstate these policies
- (Oops, many insurance commissioners won’t allow it)
- You must continue to cover providers and drugs even for cancelled policies
- The deadline for enrollment will be December 15, 2013
- (Oops, web site problems)
- The deadline for enrollment will be December 23, 2013
- (Oops, too much traffic)
- The deadline for enrollment will be December 24, 2013
- Never mind, there is no deadline
- First month’s premium must be received by December 31, 2013
- (Oops, back-end problems with the web site)
- First month’s premium must be received by January 8, 2014
- Make that January 10, 2014
How can anyone run a business this way? This is worse than being a federal agency. No federal agency would be expected to stop and start on a personal whim like this. These aren’t rules, they aren’t regulations, they are dictates based on nothing more than Kathleen Sebelius’ momentary feelings.
These are only the “glitches” that have been made public. God knows what orders and threats are being issued in closed-door meetings.
How long will the insurance industry abide being treated like shoe shine boys? Mr. Obama will not be in office forever. His regime is already coming to an end. What will these companies do then? He will no longer be around to grant or withhold bailout (“risk corridor”) money. No other president, Democrat or Republican, will ever be as arrogant or irrational.