Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shecantbeserious and the Uncertainty Bubble [UPDATED]

Definitely see Mike's more in-depth analysis of this idiocy.

Apparently, she just can't help herself: ObamaCare© applies to everyone, except it doesn't. Then the doc fix is in, except it isn't. ObamaCare© will insure millions of children, except it won't.

And the list goes on.

The newest twist is the (potentially illegal) usurpation by the Fed's of states' rights to regulate health insurance. In a blatant move to wrest those powers, without any apparent statutory justification, HHS Secretary Shecantbeserious has set her sights on rate increases:

"In a new HHS regulation ... if a health insurance company’s “proposed rate increase equals or exceeds a defined threshold, it would be considered ‘subject to review.’ The review process would then determine if the increase is, in fact, unreasonable.”

That threshold, by the way, is 10%.

Are you kidding me?

Here's the problem: by assigning an apparently arbitrary ceiling on costs over which insurers have little (if any) control, coupled with the draconian MLRs (medical loss ratios), insurers are hobbled. If they raise rates to cover costs, they face expensive regulatory battles. By law, they can't just "eat" the expenses, so they'll seek the path of least resistance: phased plan withdrawal. What will that look like? Well, come 2014, they won't be able to decline applicants for health issues. But for the next three years, you're going to see underwriters with guns pointed squarely at their heads, the result of which will be that marginally healthy folks will be declined or offered extremely unattractive rates.

Why is that?

Simple: if carriers know that they can't count on making up the difference next year, they'll impose them beforehand. The result: fewer folks insured, paying more premiums for less service (hey, those home office CSR's are cost centers, not revenue producers).

Way to go, Kathy!
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