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Health Insurers: Without Individual Mandate, We’ll Jack Up Your Rates!

by on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 11:34 am EDT in Healthcare, Politics

Yesterday a Federal District Court in Virginia struck down the individual mandate part of President Obama’s new health care program.  I was admittedly thrilled-to-pieces to hear the news!

With no cost controls to speak of, this bill was essentially a giveaway to the health insurance industry.  Seriously, it’s obscene that Obama would break his campaign promise and mandate that every citizen in the United States purchase these unaffordable, high-deductible, crappy health insurance policies from for-profit companies.  The health insurance industry has a long track record for price-gauging patients and businesses based on little more than exaggerated justifications.

Yesterday, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had this to say about the necessity for the mandate:

So, again, we disagree with the ruling. Obviously the individual responsibility portions of the Affordable Care Act are the basis and the foundation for examining and doing away with insurance company discrimination on behalf of preexisting conditions. Obviously, without an individual responsibility portion in the law, you could not find yourself dealing with preexisting conditions because the only people that would likely get involved in purchasing health care would be the very sick. And obviously, that would be enormously expensive.

So there we have it.  The White House, in their attempt to defend the individual mandate, is also giving the health insurance industry an opportunity to justify jacking up prices should the individual mandate part of the health care bill remain stricken by the higher courts.

And wouldn’t you know it, hearing these White House statements — like Mozart to their ears — the health insurance industry has enthusiastically jumped the bandwagon on the White House’s framing of the argument:

A federal judge’s ruling striking down a health-law mandate that all Americans buy insurance would cause “skyrocketing costs” if affirmed by higher courts, says a group that represents health plans in Washington.

Eliminating the mandate undercuts insurers’ ability under the law to guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and to lower cost for those who can’t afford to buy plans, said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for the Washington lobby group, America’s Health Insurance Plans.

As if they weren’t planning on jacking up prices anyway.

Now just imagine if the public option had been included as part of the health care reconciliation bill.  A decent affordable health care option, administered by the ‘not-for-profit’ government, would be an incentive, in itself, to ensure that most Americans would voluntarily purchase health insurance.  An individual mandate would have been unnecessary.

To quote Candidate Obama during his 2008 Presidential campaign:

“If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody buy a house. The reason they don’t have a house is they don’t have the money.”

Well said, Candidate Obama!  That’s the — err — “change” I … voted … for …