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Editorial: Sub-par health policies didn't deserve rescue

Published November 18, 2013 10:10 am

Burden falls back on healthcare.gov
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

This is one time when Bill Clinton should have kept his mouth shut.

Despite the eloquent explainer-in-chief's assistance in getting Barack Obama re-elected president last year, the 42nd president (who hopes to be the husband of the 45th president) really put his foot in it the other day when he agreed with the Chicken Little chorus of voices saying that the Affordable Care Act shouldn't have canceled a few million insurance-in-name-only policies.

So, under huge pressure not just from those long sworn to frustrate his every move, but also from his fellow Democrats, Obama caved in and allowed non-compliant policies to be extended for another year.

That was at least as big a mistake as the whole If-you-like-your-insurance-you-can-keep-it mess.

The whole point of the ACA, aka Obamacare, is to create a nation where nearly everyone has health insurance policies that do what insurance is supposed to do: Share risk.

Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress were unwilling to expand the highly successful and wildly popular Medicare system to all Americans. They were neither powerful nor gutsy enough to destroy the private health insurance system that sucks up so much money in return for what are, far too often, such meager outcomes. They instead tried to turn the health insurance marketplace into something that would be defensible in a civilized society.

Everybody buys a policy that will really provide for necessary health care when they become ill or injured. That way, nobody is left bankrupt by a serious health condition, becoming dependent upon the state or, more likely, just stiffing the hospital for costs that get passed along to everyone else.

That means putting money into giant pools that also provide full protection for everyone else in the pool. That means old men paying for contraception, young women paying for hip replacements, all of us paying (often with tax subsidies) for everything. Otherwise, it's not insurance.

Policies that did not meet those criteria were, in a few million cases, set to be canceled at the end of the year. That, combined with the serious non-functioning of the online exchanges that could have rescued those stranded without coverage, led to such an outcry that Obama felt he had to cave. Though, under the old rules and the new alteration of the rules, many state insurance regulators may still hold some plans to be worthless and disallow them.

The ball is now back in the realm of healthcare.gov. Get those exchanges functioning, and the whole thing may yet work.

If not, Obamacare will have failed. And the many people who have always been opposed to the idea that access to decent health care is a core value of any decent society will be ghoulishly pleased.






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