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Page 16 of the House Health-Care Bill Does Not Make Insurance Illegal

There's been a weird talking point bubbling up that the House health-care plan makes private insurance -- sigh -- illegal. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who breathes out crazy like the rest of us exhale carbon dioxide, warns that "on the 16th page, it says whatever health care you have now, it’s going to be gone within five years." Investor's Business Daily says, "right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal."

Sigh. Not really. Shadowfax does the lord's work and explains what's actually going on here. The short version is that your insurance doesn't become illegal. It just has to offer itself through the Exchange and follow the new rules, like not jacking up your prices because you had strep throat last year. As for the 93 percent of us who don't purchase coverage on the non-group market? Our insurers are unchanged. Scary, huh?

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2009; 9:03 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Next: An Interesting Point on Cost Control From Brad DeLong


And this is why the Federal Reserve might be better handling economic emergencies than people in Congress. :P

Posted by: smhjr1 | July 23, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I guess I never realized that participation in the health insurance exchange was going to be mandatory for insurance companies. Thats really troubling considering it would seem to outlaw high deductible coverage.

Posted by: spotatl | July 23, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I wrote all about this on July 16 in my Wright on Health blog post "Lies, Damned Lies, and Scare Tactics." You can read it here:

Posted by: bradwright1 | July 23, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

so individual insurance is ONLY available through the exchange that doesn't have agents. Good luck picking the right plans for those people. They'll need it. Or they can call a government bureaucrat who has no clue what he's talking about as long as its between the hours of 10 and 4 Monday thru Friday. Oh and on Monday's and Friday's call volume is higher so you may want to call other times.

I can see the nightmares now.

Posted by: visionbrkr | July 23, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The real issue is that I will lose my present insurance because, while the label remains the same, the insurance plan will have to change to meet these standards. And some of these changes will increase the cost of the plan to me or to my employer. It's not only a matter of cost. As rationing is imposed on people in the public option, it is highly likely that the same rationing scheme will be imposed on my insurance plan.

Posted by: cwillia11 | July 23, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Actually, its very scary. If there is a public option, why would the government care what my private insurance company does or doesn't do. If ABC company jacks up my rates for no reason, then maybe I get rid of them and go with the public option. Maybe I keep them because I like the calendars that they send me at Christmas. That's my business. No, the only reason that the bill creates "the exchange" is either to make all health policies comparable to the public option (so I cannot buy better coverage) or to kill them completely. If we want to cover people who do not currently have coverage and want it, why not just change the eligibility rules for medicare and insure them through an established system? We could cover most of the cost by making familes with an income over a certain level pay for the medicare coverage.

Posted by: gcurran | July 23, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I am not surprised that people are having difficulty figuring out what is in these huge, complex proposals. Obama wants some kind of plan shoved down our throats before we really understand it.

Posted by: cwillia11 | July 23, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

My company will go with the government option if it is less expensive.
That means I will not be able to keep my present insurance.
If my doctor does not agree to the terms of the government plan, I will lose him as well.
I see a nightmare.
Obama is not being honest with us.

Posted by: hankfromthebank | July 23, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

How Orwellian of an observation! "The short version is that your insurance doesn't become illegal. It just has to offer itself through the Exchange and follow the new rules...."

Right, it doesn't become illegal, it just is forced by law to become something other than what you have now. Apart from that, it stays the same!

Posted by: INTJ | July 23, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

How can anyone that supports the House bill call anyone else crazy?

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | July 23, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The problem to address is insuring the currently unisured. 87% of Americans already have insurance. Instead of creating a bill to insure the 13% uninsured, Obama & the Democrats have created a bill engineered to take over the whole healthcare industry and eliminate private insurance. The end result will be a single payer system, like in Canada, rationing and low quality and waiting lines for all and your life decided by nameless Washington bureaucrats. And all this with higher taxes. Why change an industry which provides the best healthcare in the world for 87% of its citizens ? The discussed law provision has the end result of outlawing private insurance. It does this by forcing only companies approved by a govmnt comission to compete. The rules these companies will have to pass to make them offer teh same price with a govmnt company based on tax payers money will kill them. No private company, which has marketing costs and has to make profit can compete with the goverment company. This is the Orwellian part of the law. The end result: a single payer system like in Canada. So, to summarize: under the pretext of trying to cover 13% of us without insurance, the Democrats are trying to engineer a de facto nationalization of 17% of the US economy and get control of your freedom of choice in the most important aspect of your life: your health. This is a significant step on the road to serfdom. I sincerely hope this will be defeated and the real problem, insuring 13% of the population, cvan be addressed without confiscating an industry and enslaving us to government bureaucrats. Do you know why nobody from US ever went to Canada or Europe for healthcare, but they are all deperate to come here and get that operation which their nationalized system denies them?

Posted by: stefan4 | July 24, 2009 4:38 AM | Report abuse

Hey Moron ! Stop trying to water down this outrage - it CLEARLY states that private insurance MAY NOT BE OFFERED TO NEW EMPLOYEES - how long do you think the private industry can last when its illegal to get new members ? You effing moron.

Posted by: toms6 | July 24, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

What this is really all about:

Medicare is bankrupt - why? because all enrolled are over 65 and ill.

Private insurance is healthy - why? because all enrolled are 1-64 years old, and with a few exceptions are generally healthy.

Why do they want a change? Medicare is dead, and the only way to prop it up is to steal premiums from the private market and the individuals those premiums represent - individuals who will, most likely, not be requiring serious medical care in the near future....

The truth

Posted by: pghmovie3 | July 24, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein article is really terrifying. Rather than any substance about the bill from the House that is meant to herd all of us into Big Brother's health plan, he insults a Congresswoman and cites some secondary source for his opinion. The actual bill is available at Why would Ezra need a secondary source "to do the Lord's work"? Page 16 language is very clear. If your plan doesn't comport with the New Obama Standard benefits, it's history. The healthcare czar will establish uniform Standard benefits and force everyone into that plan design. God forbid that the man with the vasectomy might not wish to pay for an abortion benefit or a maternity benefit. Finally, is Ezra serious about the Premium increase for the strep throat claim? Obviously this is more evidence that he knows nothing about individual health policy laws. What health insurer is there that selectively increases the rates of its insureds based on their individual medical claims? Maybe Ezra is thinking individual medical insurance premiums are calculated like Auto insurance premiums affected by each traffic citation. But then what should we expect when the president of the United States hasn't read what he's urging Congress to pass?

Posted by: mconnley | July 24, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Umm...what's with all the Freepers on this post?

Posted by: PeterH1 | July 24, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

PeterH1: ... and what exactly is your contribution to this debate?
Attacking ad hominem is expected if you don't have any defense for this bill, outside your blind allegiance to a socialist ideology, but should also be recognized for what it is: a desperate attempt to attack the credibility of everyone who commented on this post. Nice try...

Posted by: stefan4 | July 24, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats know that they have a lousy plan, they've already voted against it!

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Ks) introduced a bill that would replace the health care plan for members of Congress with whatever plan Congress imposes on te American people. Every Democrat who voted, voted against the bill. Surprised? Apparently, the proposed health care plan is good enough for the American people, but not good enough for members of Congress. Does anyone care?

Posted by: cscape033 | July 30, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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