Skinny Plans, A Realistic Alternative?
Skinny plans, could this be a realistic alternative for millions of Americans?
PPACA, just as many in Congress were concerned about, is loaded with details, and as we all know, the devil is in the details. Regardless of what side of the aisle you are on, the skinny plans are apparently a little detail that is now becoming more and more of a new mainstream devil. Hundreds if not thousands of employers are now looking at this option to avoid penalties. Millions of Americans may be impacted because it will most certainly help employers avoid penalties, but it definitely will not increase the participation in or increase the level of group insurance benefits, which are two main goals of PPACA. Was this an oversight? Was this intentional?
Let’s not forget what is at the core of this debate. What is government’s role in healthcare? Should they take care of us, or should we, as individuals take care of ourselves? And before we vilify these so-called skinny plans, remember that in most cases this will provide more benefit then many of these employees had before. Many of these employees are eligible for coverage already but have chosen to decline either because of cost or other personal reasons. For many plans across the country, wellness and achieving healthy successful outcomes are just beginning to take hold because we as a society have not yet embraced this strategy. We still generally expect someone else to pay for our care when we need it, regardless of how unhealthy our lifestyle and behavior have contributed to our overall health.
In most cases where an employer is seriously considering the skinny plan option, employees are not going to lose something they already have. This is more of an employer strategy to avoid being penalized because of the provisions of the law that creates what many believe to be an unintended consequence. Or, as I see it, an impotent attempt at forcing employers to provide coverage to a segment of the employee population that typically doesn’t expect to get it, doesn’t care about it, cannot afford it, or for various other reasons doesn’t take it because it isn’t paid for by someone else.
Skinny plans may provide a solution to help transition many employers and employees to getting coverage one day. This could occur as the individual mandate penalty increases to the point where even a young minimum wage person has to step up and buy a policy. As the economy improves, employers will once again consider offering benefits to attract and retain qualified employees. Skinny plans may even help individuals take more responsibility to live healthier lifestyles because they know a catastrophic medical bill could bankrupt them. Skinny plans might even help raise overall awareness that we need to take personal responsibility for ourselves. It may also raise awareness that millions of Americans still need the help of other Americans. We just need to try our best as an industry and a society to keep the devil out of the details, and find strategies that get us to a better place.
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