While D.C. gets its act together, get insured
“There is widespread agreement that the first order of business is to calm very jittery insurance markets. ‘You need to stabilize things before we change them,’ said Michael Neidorff, the chief executive of Centene, one of the few insurers that are aggressively expanding in the market. … The most significant step would be to guarantee continued funding to reimburse insurers for waiving deductibles and co-payments for low-income customers, as the health law requires companies to do.”
—“How to Repair the Health Law (It’s Tricky but Not Impossible),” The New York Times, 7/29/17
Health insurance is, among other things, bankruptcy insurance. Most of us—young and old—are one serious injury (anybody snowboard?) or illness (travel much?) away from losing our savings, and maybe even bankrupting our families in the process.
After the Senate’s recent failure to repeal and/or replace Obamacare, Congress and the White House now face a serious choice: Take steps to stabilize insurance markets or cut off funding for these “cost-sharing reductions.” One path, as many experts and legislators on both sides of the aisle are warning us, could cause premiums to rise and insurers to pull out, putting the lives and finances of millions of Americans in danger. The other would mean that the ACA will do more to expand health care to everyone. The choice seems obvious. And it would be, if party politics didn’t get in the way. The good news, as the excellent Times piece quoted above points out, is that there’s bipartisan support for ways to lower costs and strengthen the ACA. In fact, a group of Republican and Democratic House members just released a set of proposals, including a guarantee that the federal government will make cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers. Unfortunately, instead of leadership from the White House, we’re getting mostly chest-beating tweets.
Your personal health care choice, though, is much simpler: Get insured or don’t. If you’re young and active, you might think you can save that monthly premium for a few years, and put it toward something else—like, say, student loans. You might be right. But if you haven’t needed anything more expensive than an annual flu shot, you probably don’t get just how financially devastating a couple nights in the hospital or a series of medical treatments and tests can be without insurance. So, while Washington wrings its hands about whether to do the right thing or the political thing, you should do the smart thing: Get health insurance.