Welcome to the May Women Business Leaders issue of NorthBay biz magazine. This is our second annual issue, featuring women in business, and one we enjoy producing. Last year’s stories and special features elicited a considerable amount of critical acclaim from our readers and advertisers. So we’re hopeful this year’s editorial effort will be met with the same level of enthusiasm.
Please enjoy the news, information and insights contained in the stories, features and columns in this year’s special issue of NorthBay biz. You can rely on NorthBay biz as your local business news source because as our mission statement asserts, “Helping grow your business isn’t just something we do…It’s all we do!”
National healthcare is broken, completely collapsing in some markets around the country. The Affordable Care Act was enacted into law in the middle of the night and no matter its noble intentions, its fatal flaws were revealed in the reality exposed by the light of day.
The latest signal of its unraveling is Anthem Health Care’s decision to withdraw from most or all of the Obamacare markets where it currently provides coverage. Anthem joins other key health insurers that have already dropped out of the health plan exchanges. United Health Group and Aetna, most notably, have already retreated from most markets and Humana has announced its intention to join them by dropping its support of Obamacare next year.
It’s telling that even with annual double-digit percentage increases in premiums over the past several years, combined with expanded government subsidies and a federal mandate to purchase individual heath coverage or pay a large penalty, there hasn’t been enough support to make the new health scheme solvent. Insurance companies have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year in the exchanges. Anthem alone posted a loss of $374 million on Obamacare coverage last year. So it’s not surprising to see so many insurance companies withdrawing from the national market.
From its inception, Republicans have been incessant in their criticisms of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, beginning in 2010 and every two years subsequently through last year’s elections, their criticisms have resonated with the electorate as they’ve picked up hundreds of seats in each election versus the Democrats nationally. Their promise to repeal “the Beast” if/when they gained control of the government paid electoral victory dividends.
Apparently, you need to be careful of what you wish for, because the Republicans now control both houses of Congress and the White House and suddenly are unable (unwilling) to fulfill their long-standing promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare with something better. Maybe they thought their complete ascension to power would never happen, so they were safe making promises they had no idea how to keep? However, they’ve had six years to write, revise and review their promised replacement health care plan and the best they could come up with is a plan so weak that in the end even its proponents were criticizing it.
Here’s my solution: Begin with the idea that not everything in the Affordable Care Act is bad. It’s unfair for someone who develops cancer and has coverage to become uninsurable if he was to lose his job for any reason. Therefore, all health insurance has to be portable. If you lose your job, you don’t lose your insurance. Instead, it goes with you, without interruption of coverage, as you look for another job. Rates should be guaranteed within age groups. Insurance companies no longer can jack-up rates based on the fact that you got sick and made a claim. (I thought that’s what insurance was for.) Do what’s right for people, not corporate lobbyists and open up coverage across state lines. Increased competition guarantees lower rates. Most importantly, allow people to buy insurance coverage plans that suit their needs. Stop mandating that everyone have the same coverage for care they don’t value or need, thus creating plans that deliver only needed coverage while controlling cost.
Finally, if all else fails, there is one guaranteed solution to the nation’s health care crisis. You see, it’s absolutely possible to craft an insurance plan that would provide health coverage tailored to individual needs, with low deductibles and reasonable premiums where you can choose your own doctor. Given where we’re at today, I know this sounds impossible. You’re asking if this were possible, why hasn’t it already happened? It hasn’t happened because of the absence of a critical incentive to Congress was missing.
Here’s the guaranteed incentive: Effective immediately, members of Congress are no longer exempt from participating in Obamacare. Going forward, Congress will participate in the same health insurance plan as every other citizen covered by the plan. With this slight change, I’m 100 percent confident the Affordable Care Act will then be transformed into a plan we’d all value, and one Congress would value too.
That’s it for now. Enjoy this month’s magazine.
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