Thursday, September 30, 2010

Obamacare update

Earlier this week there was this:
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage.

The decision by Wellesley-based Harvard Pilgrim, the state’s second-largest health insurer, was prompted by a freeze in federal reimbursements and a new requirement that insurers offering the kind of product sold by Harvard Pilgrim — a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan — form a contracted network of doctors who agree to participate for a negotiated amount of money. Under current rules, patients can seek care from any doctor.
Now today's Wall Street Journal reports this:
McDonald's Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul.

The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers' health plans as the law ripples through the real world.

Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn't loosen a requirement for "mini-med" plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans.
Hope and change.

Update: A thought: there are one of two possibilities at work here. Either this is a totally unanticipated consequence of Obamacare, which of course speaks to how ill-conceived this whole thing is, or -- for the more conspiracy-minded -- Obamacare's architects knew exactly what they were doing and it's a deliberate effort to blow up the private health insurance industry, thereby prompting the public to clamor for the statist holy grail of "single-payer" government-run health care.

Update: Thoughts from Peter Suderman.

Update: Now a McDonald's senior VP is denying the report.

Update: Analysis from Michael Cannon and John Stossel.

Update: It's happened again:
The Principal Financial Group announced on Thursday that it planned to stop selling health insurance, another sign of upheaval emerging among insurers as the new federal health law starts to take effect.
The company, based in Iowa, provides coverage to about 840,000 people who receive their insurance through an employer.
Principal’s decision closely tracks moves by other insurers that have indicated in recent weeks that they plan to drop out of certain segments of the market, like the business of selling child-only policies. State regulators say some insurance companies are already threatening to leave particular markets because of the new law.
It's almost like a trend or something.

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