Monday, December 23, 2013

D Day for the 'F' word

Flexibility, thy name is the politics of health insurance, if we can believe Elizabeth Williamson and Louise Radnofsky of the Wall Street Journal;
Monday is the final day for consumers to get new health coverage that takes effect when the new year arrives, leaving thousands of people racing to sign up in time—and health insurers trying to figure out whether the federal health law will work in the way they had hoped.
The number of Americans enrolling continues to fall short of the goals the Obama administration has laid out, which is a problem for the White House.
It also represents a problem for the insurance industry, which calculated that the prospect of millions of new customers brought their way by the Affordable Care Act and its coverage requirements would make up for any disruption that came along with the law. Karen Ignagni, the industry's top representative in Washington, spent the weekend managing the fallout after the administration overhauled its approach to people who buy coverage on the individual market.
This is what happens when business gets into a strange bed with a fellow who doesn't have a clue about business generally--'Profits eat up overhead'--nor insurance in particular (Barack Obama thinks he should have bought collision insurance on his $1,300 beater auto back in his community organizing heydays).

The two gal reporters tell the story of Karen Ignagni, the CEO of AHIP (American Health Insurance Plans), a lobbyist who has been maneuvering for years to make lemonade for her clients out of the Obamacare lemon.
In 2009, AHIP contributed some $100 million to fund U.S. Chamber of Commerce ads opposing an insurance overhaul, a contribution that didn't become public for a year, a period during which insurers trumpeted their commitment to a health-care overhaul.
The insurers also organized thousands of insurance-company employees to protest at congressional town-hall meetings across the nation. The protests made the nascent health overhaul a galvanizing force for the new tea-party movement.
When that failed they instead embraced the ACA, hoping they would enroll millions of new, younger, customers. Which isn't materializing, because the kids aren't signing up.
Having failed to kill the Affordable Care Actwhen it was being debated in Congress, AHIP members are now pushing, tweaking and giving a little in hopes of getting a bit more. If the law works as it was designed to, insurers would reap billions of dollars in new policies. If it doesn't, the industry—and Ms. Ignagni, its polished, richly paid representative—will share in the blame.
Did we mention today is the last day to enroll and have insurance for 2014.

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