The Politics of Health Care: Congress vs. Consumers

Article excerpt

The United States Congress and consumers are engaged in a new political battle over the politics of health care. For weeks now, Congress and consumers have criticized the Obama administration for dropped insurance coverage and the inability to sign up via the Internet for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The fever-pitched roar is not about the need for controlled health care spending or even better care with better outcomes, but about canceled insurance policies and frustration with a government Web site. Congress is attempting to rewrite the law in an effort to undermine it.

The new health law, the Affordable Care Act, continues to face intense bipartisan pressure from Congress as well as consumers who have complained about losing their health coverage from the recent cancellation of individual policies. This health coverage is by private insurance companies whose policies are not in compliance with the minimum standards set by the new law; the same companies who refused to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and who cherry-pick low-risk and low-volume users of care.

Congress is demanding President Obama fix the coverage problem by allowing insurers - if they so choose - to reinstate canceled individual plans for at least a year instead of having them expire at the end of 2013. Insurance companies can extend the policies only if they follow two important steps: inform the policyholders of all the consumer protections their current policies lack (yearly limits on consumer outof-pocket expenses), and make them aware of their options to buy better policies in the Health Insurance Marketplace. This option applies only to those individuals who have current policies that were canceled. It does not apply to other individuals who might buy similar plans.

Politics of Health Care

What about consumers who never had coverage to begin with or those still attempting to obtain coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace? The nahonal conversahon is no longer about increased access through coverage but about the politics of health care through canceled coverage and the inability for consumers to sign-on to the Health Insurance Marketplace because of faulty design. The politics of health care is about Congress attempting to undermine and cripple the health care law, and the President as he tackles the public's growing mistrust, complaints, and disappointment in losing insurance coverage they liked. …