In an article titled “Balance key to health exchanges,” Ed Sealover of the Denver Business Journal writes:
Federal officials are wrestling with a conundrum that could have major implications for small businesses throughout Colorado: Whether to require insurance plans offered through health benefits exchanges to focus on covering extensive services or on being affordable.
Numerous patient groups told officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) what should be considered essential benefits in the exchanges — which will begin operating in 2014 under federal health care reform — during a closed-door meeting on Nov. 18 in Denver.
Autism advocates, for example, want full coverage for treatment of their disorder. Ophthalmologists want children’s visits to …
The rest of the article is accessible to subscribers only. But just from the above, we see how organized minorities lobby for benefits for themselves at the expense of everyone else. For more details, see the post by Paul Hsieh, MD. on the essential benefits package.
Instead of having federal officials decide what the plans should cover, how about letting (gasp!) insurers and customers decide? The above political process for controlling health plans is akin to having the FCC decide what features cell phone plans should cover: how many minutes, texting limits, web access, etc.
In that case, surely there would be groups pushing to ban, say, plans that lack unlimited text messaging. This would increase the price of all plans, even for those who never text.