The health insurance industry has been a convenient whipping boy for the White House and its allies throughout the health care debate. In reality, the industry was pretty much on board (what industry doesn’t want a law requiring compulsory purchase of its product?) until it commissioned the now-infamous PricewaterhouseCoopers study that estimated the costs of Obamacare. Now, the report is being portrayed as an eleventh hour attempt to kill health-care reform.
This isn’t fair. The chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans today explains some of the reasons why the industry now challenges the specifics of the plans now before Congress in today’s Washington Post:
Thereport’s central finding has long been noncontroversial in health policy and economic circles: namely, that implementing reforms of the insurance market without a strong requirement that everyone participate will cause adverse selection and significantly increase costs for individuals and small businesses. This finding echoes the message President Obama delivered in his address to Congress last month. “And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek — especially requiring insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions — just can’t be achieved. And that’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance,” he said.
The report concluded that the proposed new taxes on health plans, pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical-device makers will increase the cost of coverage. These findings are entirely consistent with the judgment expressed by the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, who recently told the Senate “that piece of the legislation would raise insurance premiums by roughly the amount of the revenue collected.”