health care

House Democrats Back Bill That Would Result in 500,000 People Losing Health Insurance

A new Congressional Budget Office report shows the consequences of undoing Trump-era rules on less regulated health coverage.

|

Democrats have spent years complaining that Republican health care legislation would result in fewer people with health insurance, often while pointing to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates showing just how many would go without coverage. But now Democrats in the House are backing legislation that would result in 500,000 people losing coverage, according to a new report from the CBO.

The bill would prohibit the sale of renewable short-term health plans allowed by a Trump administration rule that went into effect last year. These plans, which can be extended for up to three years, tend to offer more limited coverage than the plans sold under Obamacare's rules, and they also tend to be significantly less expensive. If the bill were to go into effect, about 1.5 million fewer people would end up purchasing short term plans, CBO estimates. About half a million of those people would end up purchasing coverage through Obamacare's exchanges instead. Others would obtain coverage through their employers. And about 500,000 "would become uninsured." That is, half a million people who had coverage would lose it—and replace it with nothing.

The bill would also have a modest effect on the deficit, resulting in a decrease of about $8.9 billion over the next decade. For context, CBO projects the deficit will total about $900 billion in 2019.

Although the bill is unlikely to become law while Republicans hold the Senate and the White House, House Democrats in both the Energy and Commerce and Education and Labor committees have already voted to support it

The bill's effects are smaller than those of the GOP repeal legislation introduced during 2017, and total coverage may not be the only or best metric by which to judge such legislative proposals. Nevertheless, the bill exposes one of the fundamental rifts in today's health policy debates—the division between those who believe health insurance plans should be required, by law, to offer a comprehensive suite of benefits, and those who believe in allowing for more customized and personally tailored options. Essentially, it is an argument about whether politicians and bureaucrats should design coverage, or whether it should be left to individuals to choose for themselves.

That divide was reflected in the structure of Obamacare, which required health insurance plans to offer a suite of "essential health benefits," from maternity care to mental health, and outlawed an array of existing plans that offered more limited coverage.

The benefits of such comprehensive plans are plain: They offer a broad spectrum of benefits. But so are the drawbacks: They tend to be substantially more expensive, which is one reason why the price of unsubsidized plans sold through Obamacare's exchanges has soared.

In a report on short-term plans last year, for example, The Washington Post noted the case of one Iowa man who purchased a short term plan for $90 a month; the Obamacare-approved alternative would have cost about $450. Individuals and families have struggled to afford the more heavily regulated plans offered under the law, and some have simply been priced out of the market.

Rather than allow those people to purchase less expensive plans, even as a fallback option, the Obama administration restricted their sale, with backers of the health law deriding them as "junk insurance." In this view, a second-best option is not worth allowing at all. 

Yet as Michael Cannon, the Cato Institute's health policy director, has pointed out, those plans can fill gaps in Obamacare's coverage scheme. With some exceptions, the health law's exchanges only make new coverage available during a few weeks or months at the end of each year known as an open enrollment period. Someone who purchased a three-month plan under the Obama-era rules in, say, January, would not be able to extend it and could find themselves unexpectedly sick and unable to renew the coverage for months. Allowing short-term plans to last for a year, as the Trump rule does, offers them a better option.

But these sorts of options are apparently not what Democrats have in mind when they say they want to expand coverage. Instead, they appear willing to potentially allow hundreds of thousands of people to go without coverage entirely in order to prevent anyone from having coverage they deem insufficient.

Advertisement

NEXT: Labor Department: Gig Workers Are Contractors, Not Employees

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I wish I could just have insurance that would kick in only if something really expensive happened. It’s nuts. My employer now sends us a statement of what they spend on all of our benefits every year. It’s insane. If I had the money that has been spent on my health insurance over the years I could easily be in a position to pay cash for anything I’d need medically short of major illness or very complicated surgery.
    But no, the whole system has to be set up for people too dumb or too impulsive to manage their money properly.

    1. We can thank Harry Truman.

      1. Yo, fuck that guy.

    2. ask your employer for a high deductible health plan.

      1. They still aren’t going to give me all the money they are currently spending on my behalf. And I have the HSA option which is the closest thing they offer. I want something that pays for nothing at all up to $20,000 or so. And an extra $12k per year in my paychecks.

      2. I’m on a high deductable plan, and the premiums are still insane. Much higher than my pre-ACA insurance, and the coverage isn’t really as good.

        1. Same here.

        2. Same here.

        3. Ditto Brett, ditto. Obama fucked my pert little asshole hard on that issue.

        4. Same here.

          1. Same here

      3. “ask your employer for a high deductible health plan.”
        Depending on where you work, you are likely to get a nicely worded response from HR saying ‘fuck you’.
        And HR has no option but to do that; legal says ‘we can offer these plans and be sure of not being sued’.
        We can thank Harry Truman.

    3. If you keep ranting about wanting control over your own money, you are going to get some government mental health care!

    4. Because then morons like you get cancer out of nowhere and then want a handout. Society will refuse to let you die like that and bail you out. Then we all can thank good old Zeb for not only his issues but for everyone else’s. The end.

      1. “Because then morons like you get cancer out of nowhere and then want a handout.”
        Imbecilic projection?
        Stupidity?
        I’m going with ‘yes’.
        Fuck off, slaver.

      2. What’s the “it” that you’re wearing, a dunce cap?

      3. Hey wearingit. Fuck off. I don’t need dumb cunts with inferior minds like your to make decisions for me. If we go to that dynamic, you should start calling me ‘master’.

        Progtarded bitch.

    5. before I sold my business I had 100+ employees and paid 100% of their premiums in our employer sponsored HI plan thru Aetna.

      for a single person I paid $4800 and for a family $12,000.

      in the years before ACA premiums regularily went up 5-7%. after ACA, 2%. deductible grew to from $500 to around $2500.

      interestingly I got my agent to finally tell me how much my employees actually used their HI. Most never, a few rarely and the familes more. Apart from the occasional serious disease they never used HI more that added up to the price of the premiums.

      In other words I was throwing money away for HI that my employees never used.

      or in other words I was pure profit for insurors. of course they make tons of profits. I got no credits or lowered costs because we didn’t use the care provided.

      now if you give a family of 4 free health insurance worth $12,000 and the employee is making $100,000 that’s another $3000 in benefits that he avoided taxes on. for an employee with a family of 4 making $50,000, that’s $12,000 I didn’t pay them in salary.

  2. People haven’t been allowed to think for themselves for a long time now.

  3. TOO MANY INSURANCE COVERAGE MANDATES!!!

    If I do NOT want to pay for (or get) aromatherapy, Scientology therapy, addiction therapy, space alien abduction therapy, sex change therapy, species change therapy, enrich-my-uncle-the- hypnotist therapy, past-lives regression therapy, sex addiction therapy, love-your-Government -Almighty relationship therapy, therapy-therapy, and on and on… If I want to OPT OUT of all this bull-crap, to save me some money… WHERE does that leave me and my freedom?

    1. Food is “medically necessary”, obviously, right? No food, you die!!! How soon will food coverage be mandated? Lobster and steak at the restaurant will be replaced by kibbles and bits, and you’ll have to get pre-authorization!

    2. by “too many” you mean ANY

    3. If your right to contract was properly recognized then exactly how would Suderman earn a paycheck?

      These things matter

  4. I recall in the 90s I changed jobs; spouse and two minor children at home. Rather than pay for COBRA before my new benefits kicked in, I stop at an insurance agency and bought a catastrophic policy just in case something major happened. Family coverage, $5000 deductible, $130 a month. I like having those sorts of options whereby the consumer gets to decide what they need and what they want to pay for.

    The more we entrust the government to decide for us, the less we get to choose. It seems some want to make like virtually idiot proof so you can never make a “mistake” on anything.

  5. Instead, they appear willing to potentially allow hundreds of thousands of people to go without coverage entirely in order to prevent anyone from having coverage they deem insufficient.

    The central planner’s thought process in a nutshell.

    1. This is what they mean by “equality”.
      It is the reason why the Obama administration could not abide the Little Sisters of the Poor’s defiance.

  6. These plans, which can be extended for up to three years, tend to offer more limited coverage than the plans sold under Obamacare’s The Affordable Care Act’s rules, and they also tend to be significantly less expensive more affordable.

    Do I have to do everything around here?

    1. I think some people should get a true public option: when they get sick or hurt, someone from the public provides treatment.

  7. This happened.

    Starting soon, a new Seattle law will require bars, restaurants, gyms, stadiums and other places of public accommodation to activate captions on their television sets during business hours.

    The City Council voted unanimously earlier this month to adopt the change, which is meant to benefit people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as elderly people, people learning English as a second language and people with learning disabilities, attention deficits and autism.

    1. I like to have the captions activated because there is often too much noise in public places to heard what is going on. I may be old but I can hear just fine.

    2. I am deaf but only understand Pig Latin. Oday ouyay underway tandsay?

      1. I wonder, is there a Pig Latin sign language?

        1. Yeah, someone hired to sign faked it, so I guess that’s it.

    3. The next resolution being considered, a motion to turn off all the TVs in sports bars, restaurants, gyms, stadiums, and other places of public accommodation. Is being considered in order to provide a measure of equity for blind people and has nothing to do with the Mariners.

    4. Oh the absolute screaming horror of tyranny! To the barricades!

    5. Why do you need a law for that? Just walk up to the bar person and ask.

      Know why all these laws? Because criminals run the show now.

    6. Most all of the places mentioned already provide that as a service to those who want to follow the game, for example. Those who don’t can tolerate the loss of business, or fail.
      Politicos grand-standing, claiming to force what’s already nearly universal.

  8. In a report on short-term plans last year, for example, The Washington Post noted the case of one Iowa man who purchased a short term plan for $90 a month; the Obamacare-approved alternative would have cost about $450.

    I had a regular individual health insurance policy. It wasn’t short term. It wasn’t even necessarily catastrophic. It had a $2700 deductible and a $30 copay. It covered prescriptions in a weird way to where sometimes I’d pay a little more, sometimes a little less (for Allegra that’s now OTC and I no longer take). It covered routine visits and basic health screening, etc. It was $83/mo. Then the Affordable Care Act came along and made that plan illegal somehow. If I wanted the same level of coverage with a similar deductible and copay, I’d have to get a silver level plan for $210/mo, so I went without insurance for about a year until I got a normal job with insurance (that I pay about $140/mo for and the employer pays about $200/mo for). Thanks for making health care affordable, you schmucks.

  9. It’s been obvious since the ACA was first proposed, that the goal is to crash the private sector health insurance industry, so that they could replace it with a government run plan.

    To many people liked their insurance for that to be politically viable, so they set out to turn that insurance into something people wouldn’t like.

    1. Who likes their private insurance?

      Sounds like a talking point from the private insurance industry.

      Do you like yours? Have you even considered alternatives?

      1. Shitbag checks in

        Tony
        April.30.2019 at 7:05 pm
        “Who likes their private insurance?”
        Me.

        “Sounds like a talking point from the private insurance industry.”
        Sounds like a fucking lefty ignoramus hopes others are as stupid.

        “Do you like yours? Have you even considered alternatives?”
        OK, shitbag, what ‘alternatives’?

        1. No you don’t. You just say whatever Republicans tell you to say.

          The alternative is to join the entire rest of the civilized world and make healthcare a public service. Idiot.

  10. Oh, wait.
    Here’s an idea.
    Allow health insurance companies to compete across state lines so we, the people, can decide for ourselves what kind of health insurance we want.
    But I’m sure the central planners in the Politburo in DC will frown on that.
    Too much loss of power, you know.

    1. Check out Mr. Commerce Clause over here.

      1. I mean, the entire point of that clause was to ensure that goods cannot, will not, shall not exchange across state lines in any circumstance, right?

    2. Allow health insurance companies to compete across state lines…

      You realize they already can, right? The Republican proposals to “allow” competition across state lines are really about letting insurance companies – which are typically regulated on the state level – sell insurance in states without having to comply with those states’ laws.

      1. SimonP
        April.30.2019 at 7:33 pm
        “Allow health insurance companies to compete across state lines…

        You realize they already can, right? The Republican proposals to “allow” competition across state lines are really about letting insurance companies – which are typically regulated on the state level – sell insurance in states without having to comply with those states’ laws.”

        Oh, goody, one more lefty ignoramus checks in.
        So, no they can’t without complying with 57 (Thanks, Obo, you fucking ignoramus!) sets of requirements?
        Do you post here to show how stupid lefties are? Or just how pathetically stupid you are?

  11. the more people you can get uninsured the more people will demand a government solution, as in single payer. Besides they will just blame Trump and no one will question it

  12. Oh FFS. When will you morons realize that IT AIN’T ABOUT INSURANCE STUPID!!

    I have never seen such stupid generation of people. How the fuck do you people even remember to breathe?

    1. You are right, it’s about government imposition on a wholly private matter.

      Thanks for getting us back to the heart of the matter.

  13. It’s almost like choice improves outcomes or something…woah

  14. My wife and I are in our 50’s. Why the fuck do we want a plan with maternity care?

    1. What about your French maid?

      1. Why French? Are you some kind of white alt-right Peterson loving white supremacist who hasn’t checked their privilege?

  15. The goal of private insurance is to make profit. The goal of socialized healthcare is to deliver healthcare as a public service. You might as well give up the fight. Most people are already on board, and the best you can do is sell capitalism in other sectors before we all decide to do away with it entirely.

    1. Lefty shitstain shows up again:
      Tony
      April.30.2019 at 7:04 pm
      “The goal of private insurance is to make profit.”
      Yes

      “The goal of socialized healthcare is to deliver healthcare as a public service.”
      Bullshit. Lefty shitstain has no understanding of bureaucracy.

      “You might as well give up the fight. Most people are already on board, and the best you can do is sell capitalism in other sectors before we all decide to do away with it entirely.”
      If infantile scumbags like you are going to direct policy, we might as well all ‘give up’.
      Fuck off, slaver.

    2. Let me fix that for you:

      “The goal of private insurance is profit. The goal of government insurance is winning votes.”

      Let’s at least pretend to be critically consistent.

  16. I have on of these short term policies I pay $261 a month for a $10,000 deductible the cheapest obamacare policy I can get is $798 for a $6900 deductible. I only want insurance in case something catastrophic happens, I can take care of my routine healthcare.

  17. *reads clickbait-y headline and expects misleading coverage*

    *is not disappointed*

  18. Funny how Reason lambasts Dems for this but is conspicuous in not giving a flying fig that the Republicans would let anyone and everyone go without and either empty all our pockets with expensive ER visits or die on the streets.

    What a worthless rag.

    1. It’s not about ‘letting you go without.” It’s about not interfering in your decisions, nor forcing anyone else to pay for your problems.

      Fuck off slaver.

    2. “Funny how Reason lambasts Dems for this but is conspicuous in not giving a flying fig that the Republicans would let anyone and everyone go without and either empty all our pockets with expensive ER visits or die on the streets.”

      Not at all ‘funny’ that fucking lefty ignoramuses continue to beat on strawmen.
      Do you post here to show how stupid lefties are? Or just how pathetically stupid you are?

  19. Wouldn’t that mean that Democrats are, to put it in their usual even-handed way, LITERALLY KILLING PEOPLE?

  20. […] As they try and ban something that gives 500,000 Americans insurance. […]

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.