More unintended consequences:  some bright soul at a hospital figured out it would save the hospital money to buy qualified ACA coverage for their patients and have the hospital pay the premiums itself. After all, these are very needy sick people, just the ones Obamacare is supposed to help.  And they're in dire straits and probably can't afford the premiums.  And it would be very wrong to deny coverage to these desperate patients merely because they're already sick, right?  Why shouldn't the hospital give them money to buy health insurance, if it's cheaper than eating the uncollectible bills?

The Obama administration and insurers are up in arms about the proposal, because it will upset the balance of the risk pools, dumping all those expensive sick people in.


Grim said...

That seems like a rather brilliant idea, really. The Feds have been pushing uncollectable costs on hospitals for decades now. Why not push them right back, while engaging in an act of wholesome charity and providing needed care?

Elise said...

So long as the hospitals don't try to get the insurance subsidized, I don't see how the Administration or the insurance companies can stop this. It seems to me it's legally equivalent to me buying a health insurance policy for, say, a niece who can't afford to pay for it herself. And I can't imagine what moral or ethical argument the Left could advance in opposition to this.

It really is brilliant. I hope whoever came up with this idea gets a cut of the money this saves every hospital, everywhere.

Elise said...

I did think of one possible problem. The Feds may decide to treat the premium payments as income. If the patients are getting various kinds of government help - food stamps, welfare, housing support - that much income might make them too well off to continue to get the government help.

I'd think taking this approach would be a PR problem for the Administration but I can imagine them throwing up their hands and claiming there's nothing they can do because "it's the law".

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I wish I'd thought of this and suggested it to our Office of Reimbursements.

The mask slips a bit here, doesn't it? The main point was never to get medical care for people - though I admit that was a hoped-for side effect for the ACA proponents. The important goal was always that the general public feel more secure that "things are being taken care of."

I conclude this from attending to what they do rather than what they say.

Texan99 said...

What is so funny about it is that the law's draftsmen inadvertently managed to harness the hospital's self-interest in aid of getting vulnerable patients the coverage that Congress claimed they needed but couldn't get. This may be one of the few ways in which the law employs sound economic principles to achieve a benign result--and the White House hates it.

That death spiral they claim isn't happening must be keeping them awake nights. I suppose you've all heard that Marco Rubio is talking about a bill to prevent the taxpayers from subsidizing the insurers' losses via the "risk corridor." That's really going to set up some screeching, but I can't imagine a lot of Congressmen will want to push subsidies to insurance companies right now.

Texan99 said...
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