Welcome to ObamaCare Part XIII: Essential Health Benefits another Costly Mandate
By: Nicole Kaeding
Monday, October 1st, is the first of many deadlines in rapid succession for states in their implementation process of the President’s health care law. By Monday, states must tell the federal government what types of services must be covered by health insurance plans starting in 2014.
Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) are one of the numerous regulatory overreaches in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). PPACA requires that all “qualified health plans” sold in health insurance exchanges starting in 2014 must cover 10 broad categories of care. These categories of service include inpatient and outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs and others.
At first glance, this seems like a good idea. It protects American households. By mandating insurance plans govern these options, consumers can rest assured that their necessary medical treatments are covered. Unfortunately, that analysis is short-sighted. These mandates do nothing but drive up the cost of health insurance stretching budgets. For instance, one of the 10 categories is pediatric dental care. Under PPACA, childless adult must pay for a service they won’t use. The same can be said about the requirements to cover substance abuse, and all the others.
States all ready have more than 2,000 mandated coverage options governing things from autism to reconstructive surgery. A 2007 study by Rutgers University found state insurance mandates in New Jersey resulted in higher premiums and less covered individuals. Another study conducted for the Texas Department of Insurance found that while Texas only had 13 insurance mandates–these mandates are much more specific than the 10 broad EHB categories–they increased insurance premiums by 7.6%.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stunned observers last December by saying states could decide the specifics and definitions under these 10 broad categories. States must countless pages of services required to be provided for each EHB.
So now states must decide and the health care lobbyists are out in force. Any service mandated by an EHB would be eligible for the trillion dollars in subsidies flowing to insurers starting in 2014. Cronies are standing in state capitols with their hands out. And for a state willing to stand out to these rent-seekers, there is no reward.
EHBs like so many other parts of PPACA mean the same thing: more regulations, more mandates and higher costs for consumers.
Welcome to ObamaCare.
Check out previous posts in the Welcome to ObamaCare series by clicking below.