There is no free lunch. If you want increased services, then there are inevitably increased costs, with the only question being whether the costs are passed on to the recipient or absorbed by the provider. Thus, is there anyone who can possibly think that Obamacare, with its many new mandates, would not increase health insurance costs?
Some of the new mandates coming into force in the next month include:
Lifetime dollar caps on coverage are abolished, and plans must allow parents to keep their children on the policy up to age 26. Many plans will also have to guarantee coverage for children regardless of a medical condition, and provide preventive care with no cost-sharing for the patient.
And with it come the new costs:
Aetna Inc., some BlueCross BlueShield plans and other smaller carriers have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the law, according to filings with state regulators.” And The Wall Street Journal was not alone. The Los Angeles Times and Dallas Morning News also reported rate hikes in their states, some as high as 16%. And this comes on top of news that Obamacare is forcing health care companies to stop offering coverage for kids and forcing colleges to stop offering coverage for students.
All that is basic economics. But now that the bill is starting to come due, the Obama administration is engaging in a blatant and outrageous abuse of power to stifle the speech of any health insurers who would blame premium increases on the Obamacare mandates, threatening any who do it with, in essence, with the death of their business. This from the AP:
President Barack Obama's top health official on Thursday warned the insurance industry that the administration won't tolerate blaming premium hikes on the new health overhaul law.
"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby.
"Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections," Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They'd lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.
These new health insurance markets will be the primary vehicle for the purchase of health insurance in our brave new Obamacare world. Thus, exclusion from the government market will be a death sentence for many insurance companies.
It is difficult to think of an act more violative of First Amendment rights in our nation's history. For Sebelius to condition access to the government market based on whether the insurer speaks negatively about Obamacare is something we would expect to see in a dictatorship. And indeed, as the WSJ opines:
Zero tolerance for expressing an opinion, or offering an explanation to policyholders? They're more subtle than this in Caracas.
And as Micheal Barone opines, this is more thuggery from the Obama administration:
"Congress shall make no law," reads the First Amendment, "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
Sebelius' approach is different: "zero tolerance" for dissent.
The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm someone's business because they disagree with government officials is thuggery. Like the Obama administration's transfer of money from Chrysler bondholders to its political allies in the United Auto Workers, it is a form of gangster government.
"The rule of law, or the rule of men (women)?" economist Tyler Cowen asks on his marginalrevolution.com blog. As he notes, "Nowhere is it stated that these rate hikes are against the law (even if you think they should be), nor can this 'misinformation' be against the law."
This act of Sebelius is criminal. It is also an act that, were it perpetrated by a conservative, would be front page news for months. Yet from our MSM, only calm silence.
This also points to a larger issue involving Obamacare and, indeed, rule by 'progressives.' The Heritage Foundation sums up the larger issues at their blog, the Foundry:
Secretary Sebelius’ Hugo Chavezesque threats against the health insurance industry demonstrate why the fight to repeal Obamacare is also the fight for the soul of our country. Obamacare and the progressive movement represent a fundamental threat to our founding principles. For the left, “progress” means fundamentally transforming America through bureaucratic dictates that will engineer a “better” society by assuring equal outcomes. Through Obamacare, progressives would redistribute wealth through a distant, patronizing welfare state that regulates more and more of the economy, politics and society. The question Americans face is: Are we a country ruled by law or by bureaucrat?
If anything passed during the Obama years still stands after 2012, then the answer to that question is the latter, and our nation will continue its long, slow deterioration because of it.