The Department of Health and Human Services is sprinting like mad to get ObamaCare implemented ahead of the 2013 inauguration of President Obama’s successor, trying to cement as much of the law as possible state and federal bureaucracy. Today they promulgate more in their ever-expanding set of regulations about what is and is not insurance. The result will limit consumer choice and force more and more onto Medicaid.
HHS says state governments should pick one of the health plans available in their state as a “benchmark”, but by that they mean “baseline”: plans offered after the determination is made could only be more generous than the selected plan.
This approach, like the rest of ObamaCare, can only serve to narrow the number of choices consumers have, forcing more and more insurance companies out of the marketplace altogether.
The end result will be more and more people who are forced to choose Medicaid as their health insurance, while many others are unable to afford insurance altogether.
HHS to give states more flexibility to implement health reform
Under the Department’s intended approach announced today, states would have the flexibility to select an existing health plan to set the “benchmark” for the items and services included in the essential health benefits package. States would choose one of the following health insurance plans as a benchmark:
- One of the three largest small group plans in the state;
- One of the three largest state employee health plans;
- One of the three largest federal employee health plan options;
- The largest HMO plan offered in the state’s commercial market.
The benefits and services included in the health insurance plan selected by the state would be the essential health benefits package. Plans could modify coverage within a benefit category so long as they do not reduce the value of coverage. Consistent with the law, states must ensure the essential health benefits package covers items and services in at least ten categories of care, including preventive care, emergency services, maternity care, hospital and physician services, and prescription drugs. If a state selects a plan that does not cover all ten categories of care, the state will have the option to examine other benchmark insurance plans, including the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, to determine the type of benefits that will be included in the essential health benefits package.