What If Obamacare Sold Homeowner’s Insurance?
If homeowner’s insurance worked like Obamacare, in no time at all homelessness would be a viable option for residents trying to lower their insurance cost.
Under Obamahome, construction contractors would talk endlessly about how compassionate their employees are. Edgy companies would assert that dealing with an English–speaking crew makes rebuilding your home a breeze. But no company would be talking prices or making binding estimates.
Instead, homeowners would hire the company that was closest or had the most caring spokesperson. Really shrewd homeowners might check a Yelp review, but that would be the extent of the research. When it came time to sign the contract the homeowner would pay his deductible and the bill for the covered procedure would go directly to the insurance company.
The homeowner would remain blissfully unaware of what his newly repaired roof, siding, basement or deck cost to fix.
Under Obamahome, renters are also covered, but renters wouldn’t be required to pay a premium. And homeowners who had a loss, but weren’t covered by insurance — because they opted to make the final payment on their Sistine Chapel tattoo — can both buy a policy and file a claim during the same transaction.
At premium–setting time, homeowners would discover Obamahome rates had to be set high enough cover their house and their prorated portion of the renter’s and the pre-existing damage claims.
Soon they’re confronted with Obama’s Choice: To get an affordable premium, homeowners must choose between a much higher deductible for the same coverage or the same deductible for much less coverage.
The result is a $12,000 deductible that covers everything up to and including Hurricane Stormy or a $1,000 deductible that covers tornados and fire, but excludes hail, wind, lightning and floods.
Fortunately, homeowner’s insurance doesn’t malfunction like Obamacare, and with any luck, the Texas Supreme Court may force hospitals to adopt pricing reform.
The Dallas Morning News reports Crystal Roberts was rushed to an emergency room after a car crash. The good news is she was home three hours later. The bad news is accompanying her was a bill for $11,037.35 for X–rays, CT scan, lab tests and ‘other’ services. Crystal was charged the ‘This Is Gonna Hurt’ rate because she lacked insurance.
But she didn’t lack a lawyer, so Crystal sued. The Texas Supremes ruled that if the hospital intended to prove Roberts’ bill “reasonable” it must “share … details about the discounted rates it had with health insurers, data that are generally seen as proprietary and confidential.”
I’ll say it’s “confidential.” You’d have better luck finding Trump’s tax returns. The only price information a patient gets on a visit to the hospital is what it costs to park.
One wouldn’t know that from the story, though. Economics illiteracy among journalists continues unchecked, “While few dispute costs are out of control and transparency would help, the ruling is seen as unprecedented by some, who worry it could deal a big blow to free market competition in health care.”
The statement couldn’t be more wrong. It’s like saying if we banned Consumer Reports Car Buying Service and prohibited window stickers on new cars it would increase competition and lower prices.
The ability to compare prices encourages competition while concealing prices encourages price–fixing.
The decision is a tentative step toward my simple, Constitutional, solution for increasing healthcare competition. First, require any hospital taking federal money to post turnkey prices for the 25 most common hospitalized surgical procedures; the 25 most common outpatient procedures and the 25 most common tests. All charges must match the best price offered insurance companies – the information the Texas hospital doesn’t want to share.
Second, allow insurance companies to compete across state lines, creating a national market. Any national policy won’t be subject to state-level regulations. This means state politicians with itchy legislative fingers can’t force companies to cover pap smears, prostate exams, birth control, or any medical fad do-gooders want to force on consumers. Individual buyers will be able to pay for the coverage they want and not be forced to pay for coverage a major campaign contributor wants them to have.
Policies must be offered in all states to escape individual state regulation. Any company selling a policy within a state must conform to that state’s financial stability rules.
Third, no exclusions for pre-existing conditions if the patient can prove continuous coverage for the prior six months. Otherwise, a six-month waiting period. Patients who don’t want to buy private insurance can participate in a federal high–risk pool.
Depending on judges to reform healthcare is spotty and imprecise. We need Congress. The only negative impact my reform might have is on hospitals and the Medical Industrial Complex. That’s why it won’t happen. Those insiders make large campaign contributions and the likes of Crystal Roberts don’t.