The Magic President Who Can Turn Back Time

I was listening to President Obama’s speech on the radio as I drove back home just now, so I had no access to the video feed. I have to assume that, at the point where he said Americans can keep their canceled policies (for one entire year, thank his generous heart), that he pulled his Harry Potter wand out of his the pocket of his suit and waved it in the air to change the Affordable Care Act and bring us back to the time before it had been signed into law.

Then he said to do more he would need to work with Congress.

Why? What is it that this president can’t do unilaterally as the chief executive?

Here is how the L. A. Times reported it just now:

White House officials said Thursday that new plans sold next year would still have to offer the new benefits, which include hospitalizations, mental health services and maternity coverage.

But the officials said insurers would be free to offer their customers the option to remain on their current plans rather than switching to the new plans, which in some cases are more expensive. If insurers offer this option, however, they would be required to notify consumers which benefits their current plans are missing. Insurers would also have to alert their customers that other options might be available on the new marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

So stuff that was illegal to do yesterday is not suddenly legal today. Not every policy must offer the benefits that the Affordable Care Act says they must offer. President Obama, speaking ex cathedra has the power to change law.

Setting aside the unconstitutional dictatorship that has once again been shoved into our faces, let’s think about whether the President has the same mystical control of economic law. Time and again, we have been told that the insurance companies, in order to stay in business, can only offer all these benefits if they get enough customers. These customers have to be the proper mix of healthy and sick, since otherwise there won’t be enough money to pay for the promised health care.

Already, we know that, by creating a frustrating and difficult sign-up process, so far the only people who have been insured (assuming any really are) are those who are highly motivated. The insurance companies are getting mostly people who have high health needs. My guess is that this will spell disaster.

But now Obama has added to it. He has said that many of the people don’t have to buy these new insurance products. That means they won’t get these ACA-required benefits. But much more importantly it means they won’t be paying for others to get these healthcare benefits. They will be in a different risk pool altogether.

How is that going to work?

Its not. It won’t. This entire plan is going to blow up in many ways.

And the promise that we can keep our insurance isn’t mandatory on the health insurance companies.

It is unclear how many insurers would opt to extend current plans. Industry officials have said that doing so would be burdensome.

Exactly. So it is likely the cancelled plans will stay cancelled anyway. If so, then the President’s change is really an attempt to shift blame onto the insurance industry.

Even if we all get our cancelled plans back, we only get it for one more year. It will be just in time for the 2014 elections.