Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who serves as Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, called the private sale of cheap health individual insurance plans “the worst abuses of the insurance industry” and said that Obamacare would halt those abuses. Waxman was defending the new standards Obamacare established for individual plans, which is causing the cancellation of millions of plans.
Waxman was speaking during a hearing featuring testimony from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who defended the cancellations and said that President Barack Obama had not, in fact, broken his promise that people who liked their health insurance plan could keep it. People were not being dropped, she said–they were just being given better health insurance plans that they were required to buy.
Following Waxman, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) compared the cancellations to the government forcing drivers to trade in Fords to buy Ferraris. Under Waxman’s logic, the fact that consumers might benefit from cheaper plans, even if those plans did not offer the same array of benefits, is irrelevant. The free choice of individual consumers and insurance providers offering a legal and beneficial product is defined as “abuse.”
Under Waxman’s definition, a student graduating from a professional school who happened to be older than 26 (and hence ineligible to stay on his or her parents’ insurance) and who found a job in a small organization that did not provide insurance to employees would be a victim of “abuse” if he or she found an affordable individual insurance policy that provided basic protection from catastrophic health problems.
Waxman–and Obamacare–would rather force that graduate to choose between a far more expensive policy on the Obamacare exchanges (assuming he or she could register) that includes more benefits than he or she wants, on the one hand, or not buying any insurance at all and paying the penalty to the IRS, on the other, knowing full well that he or she could not be denied emergency treatment or insurance coverage later.
The graduate, facing rent and student loan payments, would effectively be forced to become uninsured. That sounds more like “abuse” than allowing individuals to buy insurance they want at a price they are prepared to pay. It is also not a hypothetical situation–it describes my own situation a few years ago, when I bought affordable insurance from United Healthcare. Little did I know I had been a victim of “abuse.”