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Ripping Off the Self-Insured

Larry Kudlow of CNBC has a question:

As a 60-something, relatively healthy person, I don’t want lactation and maternity services, abortion services, speech therapy, mammograms, fertility treatments or Viagra. I don’t want it. So why should I have to tear up my existing health-care plan, and then buy a plan with far more expensive premiums and deductibles, and with services I don’t need or want?

President Obama, on his campaign swing through Boston last week (oh, wait a minute, the campaign is over, isn’t it: someone should tell the White House), says that it is to require those rascally insurance companies (among the most heavily regulated enterprises in the entire U.S. economy) to finally offer insurance contracts that provide “minimum standards” of coverage. Minimum standards covering such things as lifetime limits and prescription drugs make sense to avoid people being driven into bankruptcy by severe illness.

But requiring a 60-year-old man to pay for insurance to cover his possible need for maternity care is not about meeting minimum standards. It’s about ripping people off. Imagine the howls of outrage if millions of homeowners were to receive notices from their house insurance companies saying their premiums were going up $300 a month next year to cover possible damage to their tennis court and swimming pool when they don’t have either.

This is not about minimum standards. It’s about funding insurance for people whose risks are higher but whose insurance companies are forbidden to charge a premium commensurate with those risks, thanks to ObamaCare. By insuring against events that can’t happen, such as men becoming pregnant, they will have funds to cover real risks they can’t charge for.

In other words, Larry Kudlow and millions of others are being forced to redistribute their income to others that the government deems more worthy, but without the money actually going through the government by means of taxes and the politicians therefore having to take the political consequences that come with raising taxes.

At the moment, this only affects people who carry their own insurance, who are a relatively small part of the health-insurance market. They are raising a stink, as well they might, but the Obama administration is betting there are not enough of them to move Congress to change the law. That is no small part of the reason Obama, without a scintilla of legal authority, postponed the employer mandate a few months ago. Ninety million people are covered by their employers and when their insurance is forced to meet the new “minimum standards,” those costs will be passed along.

Had the inevitable blowback from that come this year, in the midst of individuals complaining, the website a debacle, and a midterm election looming, I doubt Obamacare would have survived unscathed.


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