John Boehner discovers the market for individual health insurance and doesn’t like it
Rep. John Boehner is shocked, shocked, that his insurance premiums will rise, now that he he’s out of the government’s health plan and shopping the market for individual policies.
Well, guess what? The premiums you have to pay as an individual have always been higher than those group plans charge for similar coverage. That is, if you could get health insurance at all. Before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) took effect, insurance companies could turn you down if you or a family member had even minor health issues. They could drop your policy if you got sick. A 64-year-old heavy smoker like Boehner could easily have been rejected or charged far, far more than he’s paying now.
He seems to have had no idea. He never saw, understood, or cared about what families not in group plans faced before the ACA.
Boehner dropped his excellent government group plan and applied for individual coverage under the ACA because his political party demanded it. The GOP passed an amendment to the health-care bill requiring legislators and their staffs to switch to new ACA health exchanges. The Democrats accepted the idea.
In group health plans, everyone is treated alike. Older people pay the same premiums as younger people do. You cannot be turned down or charged extra because you or your family member is ill. Workers who are young or healthy subsidize their elders and workers with health problems. Men subsidize women’s pregnancies. Their employer subsidizes them all.
The ACA brings similar rules to the market for individual policies. Insurance companies now have to accept all comers, regardless of health. They can charge older people more than the young but not as much more as they did in the past. As with employer insurance, the young or healthy help subsidize the rest. Once the ACA’s tech problems are solved, most individuals (not all) will pay less for comparable coverage than insurers charged in the past.
So Boehner has actually entered a much-improved market for individual health insurance and still thinks it’s bad. That’s actually good news. For the first time, he and his Congressional colleagues might start paying attention to why health care costs so much. They’re not insulated any more.
If the law were repealed, as Boehner hopes, he’d go safely back to his gold-plated government health policy. And the rest of us? We’d become invisible again. So yes, John & Co., hang in there with the ACA. You now have an incentive to improve it.