Ken's Project Blog

March 6, 2011

One Thousand and Fifty Waivers

Filed under: Health Care,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 10:13 pm

The Hill reports that Department of Health and Human services have now issued 1,050 waivers for various mini and not-so-mini medical care coverage plans for the year 2011, representing over 2.6 Million Americans who have been explicitly excluded from one of the few benefits of so-called ObamaCare coverage – an increase in the coverage limit.

Do you know why the government is granting the waivers? Because in order for these 1,050 plans to comply with the new coverage limits would cause significant increases in the cost of coverage:

Mini-med plans have lower limits than allowed under the Affordable Care Act. While mini-med plans do not provide security in the event of serious illness or accident, they are unfortunately the only option that some employers offer. In order to protect coverage for these workers, the Affordable Care Act allows these plans to apply for temporary waivers from rules restricting the size of annual limits to some group health plans and health insurance issuers.

Waivers only last for one year and are only available if the plan certifies that a waiver is necessary to prevent either a large increase in premiums or a significant decrease in access to coverage. In addition, enrollees must be informed that their plan does not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. No other provision of the Affordable Care Act is affected by these waivers: they only apply to the annual limit policy. [emphasis added]

But I thought ObamaCare was not going to increase the cost of coverage? In fact, I seem to recall the Secretary of Health and Human Services saying quite explicitly that they refused to accept excessive increases attributed to ObamaCare:

“Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections,” Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They’d lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.

Source: The Huffington Post/AP

I guess we’ve now got over 1,000 counter-examples that prove that increasing benefits leads to increased coverage costs, contrary to Secretary Sebelius statement back in September, 2010


The Hill: Number of healthcare reform law waivers climbs above 1,000

Department of Health and Human Services: Helping Americans Keep the Coverage They Have and Promoting Transparency

The Huffington Post/AP: Sebelius To Health Insurers: Stop Lying About Your Rate Increases



  1. You right-wingers do nothing but complain. You have no solutions. Rather than trying to fix the problems, you just want to complain. And THAT is what’s destroying America.

    Comment by Ben Hoffman — March 6, 2011 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

    • So, am I to accept the administration that claims one thing in Sept. 2010 (“Obamacare will not increase the cost of health care insurance, and we’ll punish anyone that says otherwise”), and then a few months later issues 1,050 waivers to exempt over 2.6 million Americans from the major current benefit of Obamacare (increased annual and lifetime benefit limits, with a planned progression to eliminating all annual and lifetime benefit caps), because doing so would increase premiums?

      I would have liked to have seen some competition, with insurance companies being able to create insurance pools that cross state lines. Tort reform could have reduced “defensive” medical procedures, and I can’t support the individual mandate in the current bill, but I think there is a way to accomodate the elimination of pre-existing conditions as a means of excluding someone from coverage.

      Republicans made suggestions for the Healthcare bill, but the Democratic House, Democratic Senate and Democrat President dismissed them all out of hand, announced that “elections have consequences” and implemented this bill so we could see what is in it…

      The GOP Healthcare plan was scored by the CBO, and it was found to be a tiny fraction of the cost of the Democratic Healthcare Bill ($61BN vs. $1.05TN), lower costs, and create savings. It would not have increased the number of covered Americans significantly.

      Report on CBO scoring of GOP Plan:

      GOP Healthcare Plan:

      Comment by Ken — March 7, 2011 @ 2:33 am | Reply

      • [It would not have increased the number of covered Americans significantly.]

        So what the fuck good is it?

        And even the insurance companies aren’t blaming the rising health insurance prices to “Obamacare.”

        The GOP plan takes away a patients right to sue and it takes away state’s rights to regulate insurance companies. Sounds like big government taking away our rights.

        Comment by Ben Hoffman — March 7, 2011 @ 9:47 am

      • Let’s go through your comment line by line:

        [It would not have increased the number of covered Americans significantly.]

        So what the fuck good is it?

        Ben, what is the name of the Democrat HCR bill that was passed into law last year? It is called The Affordable Healthcare Act, and as I recall, it’s goal was to make healthcare more affordable so that more people could buy coverage, right? Nothing enacted so far, save a few “high-risk pools” established at the state level by the federal government have actually made healthcare more affordable – every “benefit” implemented thus far has had the reverse effect, defining coverage up, with corresponding increases in the cost of healthcare coverage. And those high-risk/pre-exisitng condition pools are having a hard time getting people to enroll (seems among other factors, potential benficiaries think the coverage is too expensive).

        The GOP plan was designed to actually lower costs, and according to the CBO it did just that – that’s “what the fuck” it was good for.

        And even the insurance companies aren’t blaming the rising health insurance prices to “Obamacare.”

        Did you just see the word “ObamaCare” in the posting and have a visceral reaction?

        HHS has issued 1,050 waivers exempting insurance plans that would have had to raise costs to the point of being unaffordable by the participants, leaving them without coverage. The helath plans that got these waivers had to document that in order to meet the increased benefit limits required by ObamaCare and supply that documentation to the Dept. of HHS for approval to get their waiver. The only reason any company gets a waiver is because they convinced HHS that to comply would make their plan too expensive, and HHS had to agree. (See original post for the HHS statement and the HHS description of how insurance plans “earn” a one-year waiver.)

        The GOP plan takes away a patients right to sue and it takes away state’s rights to regulate insurance companies. Sounds like big government taking away our rights.

        GOP proposed, but was never able to debate in the House or Senate the idea of limiting the awards patients could sue for, not their ability to sue at all. In most states this very thing is offered to car owners to opt in to, lowering the cost of car insurance for those that opt-in – the american healthcare consumer is not being allowed to opt-in to such an offering, making healthcare coverage more expensive.

        The Federal Government could allow insurance plans to be sold across state lines without impacting the state’s ability to regulate the insurance companies very easily, again I point to a parallel structure in the auto industry. Some states, California being one I’m familiar with, has emissions limits that exceed any federal standards, yet automakers can sell the same car in all 50 states. How do they accomplish this? By either designing the car to meet all applicable standards from all states OR by enforcing the purchase of optional equipment that is required to meet the California emission standards on all cars sold in California. Can’t you imagine an insurance pool that spans several states (say, all the autoworkers at GM plants in the united states), but where a given state has requirements that exceed other states, a small rider policy covering just those exceptions would be needed? If GM were able to offer such an insurance plan to it’s employees, rather than have up to 50 different, seperately negotiated health insurance plans, they would likely save money on their healthcare costs.

        So, the GOP plan lowered costs, only cost $61 Billion over ten years, and would have left over $1,000 Billion in the economy to address the uninsured Americans under seperate plans (expansion of Medicare, SCHIP, etc.) and the creation of state-run high-risk/pre-exisitng condition insurance pools to help those that are otherwise unable to get coverage.

        The Democrat Healthcare plan will, over time force all healthcare plans to resemble what the federal government thinks your plan should look like, and will require you to buy it whatever the cost – that is the Gov’t limiting everyone’s options. The GOP plan allows people to choose to buy coverage or not, to buy the amount of coverage they want, from whomever they want, and the government efforts are focused on reducing costs to encourage the desired behavior.

        Do you know why health insurance companies stopped writing standalone child insurance policies? Because the “ObamaCare” plan removed their ability to limit enrollemnt based on pre-existing conditions. See, if you can’t be denied coverage when your child is sick, why pay for insurance when your child is healthy? Without the ability to limit their exposure to pre-existing conditions, Insurance companies decided to stopp offering the plans. The cost to join an insurance pool that is only populated with children with ailments that require medical attention would drive the cost of coverage throuogh the roof – that’s ANOTHER instance where “ObamaCare” raised the cost of coverage…

        Comment by Ken — March 7, 2011 @ 11:26 am

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