The Obama administration said Monday that it was cutting payments to doctors and hospitals after finding that cost overruns are threatening to use up the money available in a health insurance program for people with cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
The administration had predicted that up to 400,000 people would enroll in the program, created by the 2010 health care law. In fact, about 135,000 have enrolled, but the cost of their claims has far exceeded White House estimates, exhausting most of the $5 billion provided by Congress.Under a new policy issued by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, “health care facilities and providers will get paid less” for providing the same services to patients in the federal program, known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.In most cases, payments to health care providers will be capped at Medicare rates, which are substantially less than the commercial insurance rates they have been receiving. The new policy generally prohibits doctors and hospitals from increasing charges to consumers to make up the difference.
Oops -- you mean people aren't flocking to the program? Man, hard to imagine why. But fear not, since it's only a temporary problem:
When the federal program for people with pre-existing conditions ends on Jan. 1, 2014, many of them are expected to go into private health plans offered through new insurance markets being established in every state. Federal and state officials worry that an influx of people with serious illnesses could destabilize these markets, leading to higher premiums for other subscribers.Recruiting, they're calling it. As if you can choose to do something different.
For this reason, federal and state officials say, they will try to recruit large numbers of healthy young people to buy insurance. Their premiums would help pay for the care of less healthy people.
Just so you know, young people of America, this is the drill: you get to pay more for insurance, and pay back those student loans you racked up, right now, even if you're rocking the barista job at the Starbucks. You need to be thinking about those less healthy people you're supposed to be subsidizing. Hope and change, kids. Maybe the less healthy people will throw a few extra nickels in the tip jar to help you pay for the premium.