Is Your Health Insurance At Risk Under The GOP Senate Bill?

06/30/2017 10:38 am ET Updated Jun 30, 2017

We all know that the proposed GOP healthcare bill guts coverage to poor people by slashing Medicaid enormously by nearly $800 billion.

But the GOP bill also undermines healthcare coverage for the middle and upper classes as well.

The Republicans are accomplishing this in a shockingly underhanded manner hidden away from view by burying land mines deep within the technical details of the plan.

Think about it. Something just doesn’t pass the smell test in the claims by Republicans. They say their plan eliminates the unpopular aspects of Obamacare, mainly the individual mandate that requires everyone to purchase insurance, while simultaneously preserving the popular aspects of providing universal coverage to everyone.

How wonderful!

But hold on a second here.… How could insurance companies possibly remain in business this way? Hm. If something sounds too good to be true, chances are there is a catch. In this case, the catch is so severe that it renders the proposed plan far worse than the existing plan.

Here is how the swindle works. The Republicans claim that they are reducing regulations imposed by Obamacare to enable insurance companies to provide greater "choice" to consumers. Again, sounds terrific. The problem, of course, is that the Obamacare regulations were put in place specifically to protect consumers, and thus without the regulations, consumers will lose. And in this case, consumers lose big time.

Under the GOP bill, states can easily obtain waivers exempting insurance companies from various requirements. This will result in watered-down policies for consumers.

One essential protection under Obamacare is that insurance companies can no longer impose annual or lifetime limits on coverage. Under the new GOP plan, however, insurance companies could obtain waivers to bring back these limits on coverage.

This is enormous. Think about it. This one loophole changes everything. If insurance companies can cap their total coverage under a policy, say, to $100K, then they can provide all sorts of “choices” to consumers that offer lower premiums, better deductibles, and fewer co-pays. Sounds great. But, of course, the consumer loses in the end.

If the consumer falls seriously ill with medical expenses that exceed the $100K limit, the consumer has no coverage for any of those costs and immediately becomes bankrupt, or worse, will be unable to obtain the needed treatment. This is exactly the enormous problem that plagued society for decades and that was entirely solved by Obamacare. The GOP plan, however, threatens to resurrect this nightmare problem.

People in the middle and upper classes are in jeopardy as well. Those who receive their insurance through their employers are not spared. This problem is not limited to only poor people or those who buy individual health plans. No. Even people with group plans could suddenly be subjected to annual or lifetime limits on their coverage.

Suddenly, it becomes clear how the GOP plan is able to eliminate the individual mandate while still enabling insurance companies to make handsome profits – by screwing consumers.

Another essential protection provided by Obamacare is that insurance companies are no longer permitted to deny coverage to people who are already sick with so-called pre-existing conditions. The GOP plan obliterates this protection as well.

You must be on your toes to detect how the Republicans are pulling off this one. It is hidden and quite conniving.

The Republicans know full well that the pre-existing condition prohibition under Obamacare is a very popular feature, and thus they know that openly eliminating it would draw widespread condemnation. So they deviously devised a way to keep the pre-existing condition restriction in place on the surface, while simultaneously gutting it in practice. Tricky.

Republicans claim with a straight face that their plan continues to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based upon pre-existing conditions. And technically, they are correct. The words containing this restriction remain in the GOP plan.

But what Republicans do not tell you in the same breath is that by giving insurance companies greater “flexibility” to exclude various items from coverage, the insurance companies can achieve the same result in a hidden manner.

For example, take someone with the pre-existing condition of bone cancer. The insurance companies cannot deny coverage to this person. Sounds great. So the person buys an insurance policy and believes they are covered. But they soon discover that their policy excludes coverage of the expensive treatments for bone cancer, such as, say, the cost of chemotherapy drugs or prosthetic surgery. So effectively, we find ourselves right back to the dark days of excluding the costs of treating pre-existing conditions, just in a different way.

Devious indeed.

No wonder Republicans created this bill in total secrecy and are trying to ram it through Congress as quickly as possible before the public has a chance to understand what it contains.

Otherwise, such an abomination could never pass.

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