The Spectacle Blog

Mass Care Not Working Out—Part II

By on 8.17.06 | 3:27PM

Lesson number two that Romney ignored: Unintended consequences. From that same Globe article:

Walrath's comments came as the divide between business leaders and healthcare advocates over what constitutes a company's "fair and reasonable" contribution to health insurance deepened yesterday. During a Division of Health Care Finance and Policy public hearing at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, healthcare advocates said the division's proposal would further erode employer health plans, leading to a "race to the bottom."

"The proposed regulations make an already inadequate assessment even more inadequate," said Phil Edmundson, head of a private insurance company and chairman of Affordable Care Today's Massachusetts coalition.

Edmundson said the proposed contribution requirement doesn't set any standards for company health plans. He cited the case of Friendly Ice Cream Corp. of Wilbraham, which recently changed its health plan for many restaurant employees to a ``mini-med" plan, with limited benefits, which leaves beneficiaries liable for costs if they become seriously ill. In a statement, Friendly said yesterday that it has recently improved its insurance for restaurant employees, increasing hospitalization benefits to $10,000, with no deductible.

"With no quality requirement, these regulations could spread the use of mini-med plans," Edmundson said.

So, some companies are now purchasing less-costly insurance that makes it easier to comply with the regulation mandating that the company pay 33% of the premium.

That, in turn, leads to calls for "minimum quality requirements"--i.e., mandates on what benefits a health insurance plan must include.

And, of course, the insurance industry, in the form of Mr. Edmundson, advocates for more regulation requiring companies to purchase more expensive insurance--thereby fattening the insurance industry's bottom line.

It is at least a bit ironic that Romney intended this reform to make insurance more affordable.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article

More Articles From David Hogberg