Saturday, November 10, 2012

How do you stifle that which stifles itself?

Free market conservatives using the word "stifle" don't seem to grasp the word's meaning.
In Louisiana, there isn’t much competition for health care insurance, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana dominating the insurance market to the extent the market is considered “noncompetitive,” Donelon said. An October 2011 report found that in the small group market, Blue Cross claimed 80 percent of the market.

Figuring out how to foster competition is one of his greatest concerns, as the state commissioner has no authority to regulate rates for health insurance, Donelon said.

“It is a dilemma,” Donelon said. “But I will add this: This health insurance program probably changes everything in such a dramatic fashion in the near future that we will have to wait and see.”

Some conservative health experts question the exchanges, saying the regulation they come with will stifle competition rather than spur it.

We scroll down a little to see how the ACA is going to "stifle" the non-existent competition.

Some of the options people will have are known, although only in broad strokes. For example, the health law requires the federal government to set up two national plans that will be available in every state. HHS is expected to release regulations for those plans soon.

In addition, non-profit “cooperative” health insurers are getting loans from the federal government to set up new programs that will become operational in 2014.

Ochsner Health System, along with other business entities, is working on such an insurance program, called the Louisiana Health Cooperative. It received a $65 million loan from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in September.

So we're stifling competition by adding competing firms to the market.  It's sort of like how being behind in all the polls meant a sure-fire Mitt Romney landslide.

There's little question that the market for health insurance is about to become slightly more competitive. Whether that means anything useful to people is something else altogether.  The law itself will help a little.  It does some things to standardize the products insurance companies can offer as well as limit.... to some degree.... their more onerous practices. It should be pointed out, however, that all of these benefits of the new law accrue through federal mandate and are not the magical gifts of a competitive marketplace. But, because it is taken on political principle that competitive markets always produce the best outcomes, the law has been constructed in such a way that creates some competition where before there was practically none.

Of course this is of little use to the estimated 400,000 Louisianans who could best benefit from the expanded Medicaid benefits program designed to supplement the expanded more competitive insurance market, that  Governor Jindal has nonetheless refused to accept. One would hope the election result would somehow ramp up the pressure on Jindal to relent on his uconscionable destructive position.  But, then, one probably hasn't been paying attention to how this works.

Since the election, some have speculated that the generous nature of the Medicaid expansion – as well as the subsidies for private insurance – could be scaled back as lawmakers and the Obama administration look for ways to trim the federal budget.
And that's how reelecting the President who got health insurance reform passed somehow ends up stifling the reform's efficacy anyway. 

1 comment:

owencourrges said...

Well, there's a lack of competition now because regulations are pretty stifling. Obama's healthcare package will make them more stifling in many ways, but also forces a market while mandating that everyone buy the product. I'm very dubious of that. Right now I pay very little for a minimal Blue Cross plan that will only stay legal by virtue of being grandfathered in. If that plan lapses, I'll be forced into something more comprehensive that I don't want and I'll be punished if I don't buy it. That's what resonates with me, not whether there will be more or less competition.