By Mary Taylor
Ohio Lt. Gov. and Insurance Director
Obamacare is so complex that only a few of its impacts have been widely publicized. In fact, many of the law’s far reaching mandates and requirements are still being defined by Washington bureaucrats. But as you look closer at some of its lesser known provisions, one thing becomes clear: the authors of Obamacare are more concerned with a government takeover of health care and less worried about you the consumer and the increasing cost of health insurance because of this law’s mandates. Here are just three of the major market changes – among many – that all Ohioans should understand.
First, the law’s heavy-handed mandates force insurance companies to include coverage for many benefits and services you may not want. Say for example, you do not have any children. Under Obamacare, you would still have to carry insurance that covers pediatric, maternity and newborn care even though you do not need it. Such mandates remove consumerism from the process and replace it with a one-size-fits-all approach. By requiring consumers to buy services they do not want or need, costs will rise significantly.
Second, Obamacare limits the deductible amount a consumer can choose to pay each year. Today, similar to car or home insurance, health insurance can be purchased with high deductibles or low deductibles impacting the monthly premium you pay. Obamacare limits high deductible plans leaving consumers with fewer choices. These restrictions, however, have not yet been clearly defined by Washington bureaucrats who could make them even worse.
Third, Obamacare squeezes the rating rules for insurance carriers in Ohio forcing some to pay higher premiums. This means you will no longer pay premiums for health insurance based on your choices and lifestyle as much as you do today. For example, insurance companies can currently rate an individual on a wide array of factors such as health status, occupation, and tobacco use. Because there are so many factors, there is more competition among insurance companies resulting in more options and lower costs for consumers.
But when Obamacare is fully implemented there will be only four rating factors permitted under law. Those are age, family status, geographic location and tobacco use. By narrowing the playing field, consumers will have less control over their health care costs based on the decisions they make compared to today’s laws. And because choices are no longer rewarded, insurance companies will be forced to treat everyone the same resulting in skyrocketing premiums for many low-risk, health conscious consumers.
Simply put, these changes all have one theme in common – government knows best. In other words you the consumer do not know how to buy insurance for yourself; you need the government to tell you what you must purchase. There is no consumer-driven, market-based approach when Obamacare is fully implemented. Choices will be limited, mandates will be increased and costs will continue to rise but at a much faster pace. The intent behind the law seems clear. Obamacare is government telling you what you must have – it is not a solution that provides you with the health care options that you want and need.
Mary Taylor is Ohio’s 65th Lieutenant Governor. She was sworn into office on January 10, 2011, the same day Governor John R. Kasich named her to serve as the director of the Ohio Department of Insurance and to lead CSI Ohio: The Common Sense Initiative to reform Ohio’s regulatory policies.
NOTE: This is the second in a series of columns by Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor focused on Obamacare’s consequences and costs to Ohioans.