Avik Roy: Long-Awaited Health Insurance Rules

If the low point in the weekly news cycle – when politicians release bad news they hope few will notice – is late on a Friday afternoon, then the low point in the biannual news cycle has to be right before Thanksgiving after an election. The election’s winners are still elated, the losers are still subdued, and most ordinary Americans, regardless of politics, are long forward to a long weekend relaxing or shopping. It was that point, last Tuesday, and the Obama Administration chose to release long-awaited regulations that will have the most impact on the shape, and the price, of health coverage when Obamacare’s major provisions take effect a little over a year from now, on January 1, 2014.

Couched in the most terms describing a generous cornucopia of benefits, the new rules demonstrate – inadvertently, no doubt – how we are headed for a world of rising health insurance premiums, shortages of physicians and hospital beds, and, possibly, a future “solution” based on bureaucratic rationing and restricted eligibility for life-saving treatments.

“Insurers will not be able to charge someone more just because she is sick or because she used to be sick,” as Health and Human Services SecretaryKathleen Sebelius described the law’s ban on surcharges and exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

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