Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for

Before I get to the great column in today’s Charleston Post and Courier on Trumpcare, let me remind you of the upcoming free webinar on your options today for health insurance for small businesses and employees. This has turned out to be a very popular webinar given all the controversy in Congress.

Options for Small Business Healthcare
Monday, May 22, 2017 – 1:30pm EDT
SBA Participating
Registration Required

Now, to the column in the Post and Courier by Brian Hicks (see below).

One of the excellent points Brian makes is that the healthcare reform bill, Trumpcare, passed by the U.S. House last week warns people with employer-sponsored health insurance that Trumpcare can impact them also—and not in a good way.

Brian writes:

If the Republican plan becomes law, everyone’s health care could change. The Wall Street Journal found this bill could allow employers to cap coverage. Which means if you get breast cancer, your insurance could opt out after a certain point. The surcharge would be $28,000.

But it’s not just capping your health insurance coverage, Trumpcare would allow companies operating in multiple states (ex. banks, insurance companies, manufacturers, etc.) to cut their costs by picking any state in which they operate to determine the health insurance benefits they have to offer.

That means if they operate in a state that decides, under Trumpcare, to not require a health insurance plan to cover one or all of the Affordable Care Act’s “essential health benefits”, you are going to lose.

Here are those essential health benefits that are covered in your plan now:

  1. Ambulatory patient services
  2. Emergency services
  3. Hospitalization
  4. Maternity & newborn care
  5. Mental health & substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
  6. Prescription drugs
  7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  8. Laboratory services
  9. Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  10. Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

So for all of those overjoyed with the House version of Trumpcare, the words in the heading of Brian’s editorial say it all—be careful what you wish for.


Charleston Post and Courier
May 8, 2017

Hicks column: When it comes to health care, be careful what you wish for, South Carolina

By Brian Hicks

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Many South Carolina residents no doubt cheered when House Republicans finally delivered on their long-delayed promise to repeal and replace Obamacare last week.

After all, how dare the government tell them they must buy health insurance.

Car insurance? Fine. Homeowners? Sure. Flood? OK.

But never health insurance.

If this new GOP love-child of a health care bill ever becomes law, which is doubtful, many of those same people probably won’t be so happy. Especially if they have arrhythmia, blood clots, breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s, diabetes or sickle cell anemia. You know, pre-existing conditions people have no control over.

Which accounts for a whole lot of people in this state, some of whom most certainly vote Republican.

In December, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a study that found 52 million non-elderly Americans have pre-existing conditions that, prior to the Affordable Care Act (which, yes, is Obamacare), were grounds for insurance companies to decline coverage.

That number included more than 880,000 South Carolina residents, about 28 percent of the state’s non-elderly population.

Now Republicans promise that, under their plan, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone. That’s true. But they can charge more, and most folks just won’t be able to afford it.

Then their health will be in the hands of the state Legislature.

And, as we’ve seen, the state can’t even pave roads.

Don’t get sick

More than 200,000 South Carolina families have bought health insurance through Obamacare.

Some were happy they could afford insurance for once, and others complained that their premiums went up astronomically. Which means they made too much money to qualify for Obamacare subsidies, or had to switch from a cheap catastrophe-only plan to a more comprehensive one.

People with employer-provided health insurance actually saw their costs stabilize. Anyone with health insurance in the early 2000s probably remembers those 10-15 percent rate hikes. Every. Single. Year.

If the Republican plan becomes law, everyone’s health care could change. The Wall Street Journal found this bill could allow employers to cap coverage. Which means if you get breast cancer, your insurance could opt out after a certain point. The surcharge would be $28,000.

Now, nearly one in five South Carolina resident lives below the poverty line, which should mean they qualify for Medicaid.

But the Republican plan cuts Medicaid funding by about $900 billion and turn its operations over to the states, which would get to decide who is covered – and for what.

The state has not been able to make up the shortfalls in Medicaid funding as it is, which means it’s doubtful everyone who’s covered now would see benefits.

So more South Carolinians won’t have health care.

The good news is all those South Carolina families making $250,000 a year are going to get one massive tax cut. They amount to about 1 percent of the state – 15,000 of our 1,533,854 households.

Everyone else will just have to take solace in the fact that they won’t have to participate in any socialized medicine scheme.

Until they qualify for Medicare.

This might sting a bit

By Thursday evening, some Republicans were already saying they didn’t like the bill they’d passed. But they had to do something to show they could govern.

Good job.

They passed this bill the exact same way they accused Democrats of ramming through Obamacare – without reading it, without studying it, without amendments, without waiting for a cost estimate. They were complete hypocrites.

But they needed a win and knew when the cost estimate comes back from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it will likely show this plan costs more than the original Republican initiative. Which the CBO estimated would kick 24 million people out of the insurance pool.

So far more than 1 million South Carolina residents are potentially about to get bad news. Back to the high-risk pool for them. Which is woefully underfunded. Surprise, surprise.

The bottom line here is that a faithful adherence to one party is not always in everyone’s best interest. Unless you make more than $250,000 a year. Because those are the only people better off with this plan.

The good news is this probably won’t pass. Shortly after Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Republican the right loves to hate, expressed concerns, other senators said they’d write their own law.

It would be much better if the two sides sat down and came up with a compromise that improves on the failings of Obamacare but keeps its popular provisions. Shouldn’t be hard since it was a Republican health care plan before Obama hijacked it.

But there likely will not be any sensible compromise because politicians have trained too many of their constituents – especially in South Carolina – to believe that compromise is weakness, that it’s bad.

For those people, here’s a warning: Blind partisanship can get you killed.