Item: Section 1302(b) of the Obamacare law (see page 59) defined the minimum "essential health benefits" health insurance plans must provide. Section 2711(a) of the same law (see page 14) (as amended by Section 10101(a) of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) prohibits such plans from imposing lifetime or annual benefit limits. However, subsection (a)(2) of that same provision gives the HHS Secretary authority to waive the annual limit restrictions until 2014.
Item: As of this week, HHS has granted 729 annual limit waivers covering 2.2 million employees. The Free Market Project rightly wonders:
If Obamacare was a good idea, if it lowered the cost of insurance and guaranteed coverage, if you could keep your insurance and your doctor, why would 729 waivers be needed? . . .Item: This result hardly is shocking, observes Hot Air's John Sexton:
If Obamacare was a good law, no waivers should be necessary. If it accomplished the promises that those who backed it made, no waivers should be necessary.
Obviously, a plan with higher annual limits is potentially more costly than one without them. The money to cover the difference in premiums has to come from somewhere. Without the waivers, it will come from the employer who are forced by law to upgrade to the more expensive plan. In other words, the 729 organizations who have received waivers are not seeking refuge from an unintended consequence, but from the costs associated with one of ObamaCare’s features.Conclusion: Everyone not drinking the Obamessiah's Kool Aid -- even the Economist magazine -- said Obamacare wouldn't cut health care costs. So far, everyone except Obama was right (plus Obamacare increases taxes). I'm looking forward to the House hearings.
See also Mickey Kaus:
The dude just sold us an expensive universal health-care program on the grounds that it was really a program of deficit-cutting entitlement reform (because it would "bend" the health-care cost curve)! Now that it's time for real deficit-cutting entitlement reform instead of fake reform, he throws up his hands and says, "Sorry, can't be done. I'll just tread water for a while."(via reader Warren, Gateway Pundit, Bruce McQuain)