Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Strange Fantasy World Of Mitt Romney’s Health Insurance Ideas

Earth to Mitt:  Please Come Back

As everyone on the planet knows, the signature accomplishment (maybe the only accomplishment?) of Mitt Romney during the two years he actively served as Governor of Massachusetts (he had a four year term, but spent the last two running for President) was his health care plan.  The plan required everyone in the state to have health insurance and set up various mechanisms for the uninsured to get insurance.

Now that Mr. Romney is really in the race for President he is campaigning against his own plan, which was adopted and adapted by the Obama administration, and has come up with something called market based health insurance.  It is pure undecipherable fantasy.

He starts out by saying health care has a high priority and then totally abdicating federal responsibility, even though if elected he would be the Chief Executive of the federal government. 

Romney said that his top priority is to care for the nation’s uninsured, but that he would make states responsible for providing that service.

“I believe that states have responsibility to care for people in the way they feel best,” Romney said. “It’s important for us, in my view, to make sure that every American has access to good health care.”

A pretty interesting approach.  His solution is for the Federal government to make a totally separate part of government, state governments,  responsible.  This is leadership?

He would of course protect people who had pre-existing conditions, sort of.  See you would have to have been continuously insured. 

Romney also said his plan would help cover people with preexisting conditions if they lose or change their jobs, although Americans already have been guaranteed such coverage since the 1990s under the COBRA law.

“Let’s say someone has been continuously insured and they develop a serious condition, and let’s say they lose their job or they change jobs, they move and they go to a new place,” Romney said. “I don’t want them to be denied insurance because they’ve got some preexisting condition.”

In other words if you tried to get insurance and had a pre-existing condition,  you could not get insurance if  you did not have insurance because you had a pre-existing condition.  And of course there is going to be a huge government regulatory apparatus to determine what continuously insured means, like if you were off insurance for one day would that disqualify you?  (Don’tcha just hate it when details crop up?).

Mr. Romney is going to make health insurance consumer driven just like a bunch of other industries.

Romney said he wants to make the nation’s health-care system more like a consumer market, likening it to the tire, automobile and air-filter markets, which, he said, keep costs down and quality up. To do so, he said, he would allow individuals and small businesses to buy insurance coverage with the same tax advantage that larger businesses enjoy and to purchase insurance across state lines or join organizations to give them bargaining power with insurers.

Uh Mitt, small businesses do have the same tax advantages large businesses do, and most individuals get tax breaks on being self insured if they are self employed.  And does he really think that an individual can gain bargaining power with an insurance company?  Really, just how successful is any single individual in arguing with a health insurance company. 

And yes everyone is reading that correctly, Mr. Romney thinks health care and health insurance is about as complicated as buying tires for your car.  Of course Mr. Romney has likely never ever even bought tires.  As the son of an auto executive he probably was furnished a car, and when he went to work his employer probably furnished him a car and now that he has hundreds of millions does anyone really think Mr. Romney ever visits the Goodyear store?  So he is probably unaware of the role of government in regulating tires, information on tires and tire safety.  

Of course there are all sorts of other questions about what insurance companies will and will not be able to do, like charge on a community rating or charge on individual underwriting, or how an insurance company in California is going to be able to provide hospital coverage for a person in every other state unless the California company has a contract with every hospital in every other state. 

As for Medicaid, the critical program that provides health care support for the very poor and the very disabled, Mr. Romney will get the federal government completely out of that program.  Just how much coverage does anyone think Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and his conservative ilk are going to provide for low income and disabled people?  Yeah, you’re right, not much.

But none of this matters because much of the public will believe in the magic of the free market to provide affordable health care.  After all, current employer based coverage is largely driven by the free market, how is that working out? 

Finally, anyone want to bet against the idea that while converting the rest of the nation to individual coverage, Congress will still provide themselves with great government provided group health care insurance?  No one, didn't think so.


  1. Nothing Romney says about health insurance matters because Republicans will never pass health care reform. Any kind of real health care reform requires one of three things: socializing medicine, socializing insurance, or imposing significant restrictions on insurance companies. Republicans will never do any of these things.

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