For several years I have feared that my high-deductible health insurance would be illegal. I am a big believer in high deductible insurance. First, it is real insurance, requiring that I pay day-to-day expenses but protecting me from catastrophic bill. Second, it improves the health care system by providing incentives for consumers to actually price-shop services.
Well, I was wrong. In fact, most people see to be getting higher deductibles than they want.
My only excuse is that the Obama Administration has acted for three years as if they hated high-deductible health coverage and were planning to make it go away. Kathleen Sebelius has said on a number of occasions that it is not "real insurance" (she believes that insurance should actually be pre-paid medical care). Seriously, here is an example of what she was saying:
At a White House briefing Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said some of what passes for health insurance today is so skimpy it can't be compared to the comprehensive coverage available under the law. "Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don't pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus," she said. "They're really mortgage protection, not health insurance."
She is saying this all while the policies being prepared for the exchange were exactly the kind of coverage she was speaking out against. And she had to know -- I cannot believe a former state insurance commissioner was not looking at what policies were being prepared for the exchange. After all, her organization made the last minute decision to hide policy pricing from the public (e.g. deleted the window shopping functionality) and this almost certainly was in response to seeing the policies being prepared for the exchange and realizing the pricing and features were not going to make people happy.
By the way, there is a certain schizophrenia here that is entirely political: These new policies have a $10,000 deductible, but they pay 100% for condoms? They may well be creating a combination of catastrophic insurance and pre-paid medical care that has the worst of both approaches.
Politicians lie. But what is it about this administration that lies in ways that are inevitably going to be discovered, in just a few months? Can they really be so focused on getting through each individual news cycle that this kind of behavior makes sense?