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Tags: biden | anti patient | agenda | media applause
OPINION

Biden's Anti-Patient Agenda Is Dangerous, Yet Media Applauds

president joe biden surrounded by bidenomics signs
(Evan Vucci/AP)

Sally Pipes By Wednesday, 19 July 2023 10:21 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

President Joe Biden just released his "Bidenomics" policy agenda, which he claims will "lower healthcare costs." Among his first orders of business? Effectively banning some of the most affordable health plans on the market.

On July 7, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury published a proposed rule that would severely curb the utility of short-term, limited duration health insurance. The rule, which is open to public comment for 60 days, would set a maximum term of three months for the policies, with an option for a one-month extension.

Right now, under rules promulgated by the Trump administration, people in many states can buy short-term plans that last up to 364 days and can be renewed for up to three years. Millions of Americans have signed up for short-term plans as an alternative to the expensive policies on sale through Obamacare's exchanges.

Short-term plans were conceived as a form of stop-gap coverage. They've historically been most suitable for people rendered temporarily uninsured due to a job loss, college students disenrolling from their student health plan over the summer, new employees who have to wait until the end of a probationary period to enroll in their employer's health plan, or people experiencing other life changes.

But they took on a new role in the wake of Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act implemented a number of regulations that had the effect of increasing the cost of coverage. These included a list of ten "essential health benefits" all plans had to cover. Insurers were also required to sell to all comers, regardless of their health status or history. And their ability to vary premiums according to age, health, or tobacco usage was significantly restricted.

Short-term plans were exempt from these regulations. So their premiums tended to be much lower than those for exchange plans.

By 2019, an estimated 3 million Americans were enrolled in short-term plans. Biden would like to see that number plummet.

He's tried to justify his proposed rule by portraying short-term plans as "junk" coverage that pose a threat to patients. But that rationale doesn't hold water. According to one recent analysis by the Manhattan Institute's Chris Pope, short-term plans can provide the same level of coverage as exchange plans at a lower price — and sometimes at nearly half the price.

If anything, it's exchange plans that deserve the "junk" label. The average deductible for a mid-level silver plan on the exchanges last year was $4,753, compared to just $1,763 for an employer-based plan.

In other words, the exchange coverage the Biden administration is trying to force people to buy doesn't actually protect them from substantial out-of-pocket costs.

Biden's proposed rule is part of his longstanding effort to prop up Obamacare's exchanges. As part of last year's Inflation Reduction Act, he signed into law billions in new taxpayer subsidies for premiums on the exchanges. Even some people who make healthy six-figure incomes can count on taxpayers to cover part of their insurance tab.

Those enhanced subsidies expire Dec. 31, 2025, after which millions of Americans will bear the full brunt of Obamacare's exorbitant premiums. Of course, Democrats want to make those subsidies permanent. If they fail — and if Biden's new rule takes effect — then people will not be able to find relief in the short-term market, as they have for much of the past five years.

Nearly all of the mainstream media has portrayed Biden's short-term plan rule as a bold attempt to protect patients and lower health costs. But nothing could be further from the truth. It would be more accurate to conclude that he's taking low-cost health coverage away from people and trying to nudge them into dependence on government for insurance.

In the short term, many will needlessly end up among the ranks of the uninsured.

Let's hope the 60-day comment period on the proposed rule will open people's minds to the disastrous effects of these changes.

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and the Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is "False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All," (Encounter Books 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes. Read Sally Pipes' Reports — More Here.

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SallyPipes
President Joe Biden just released his "Bidenomics" policy agenda, which he claims will "lower healthcare costs." Among his first orders of business? Effectively banning some of the most affordable health plans on the market.
biden, anti patient, agenda, media applause
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2023-21-19
Wednesday, 19 July 2023 10:21 AM
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