Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Obamacare damages more health care plans

Obama's pledge that his health care plan would allow everyone to keep the health care plan they have with no changes has become a sorry joke. It seems that every week or so we hear a story about how some health care plan is cutting services or raising costs in order to cope with the mandates in Obamacare. Here is another such story.
Members of the Screen Actors Guild recently read in their health plan's newsletter that, beginning in January, almost 12,000 of its participants will lose access to treatment for mental-health and substance-abuse issues.

The guild's health plan represents one of a small number of unions, employers and insurers that are scrapping such benefits for their enrollees because of a 2008 law that requires that mental-health and substance-abuse benefits, if offered, be as robust as medical or surgical benefits. By dropping such coverage, providers can circumvent the requirements.

Others that have made the same move include the Plumbers Welfare Fund, representing about 3,500 members in the Chicago area, and Woodman's Food Market, a chain in Wisconsin with 13 stores and about 2,200 employees. United Security Life and Health Insurance Co., of Bedford Park, Ill., dropped mental-health coverage in individual policies it sells in Indiana and Nebraska this year because it saw costs rising and some competitors dropping coverage, said chief compliance officer Robert Dial.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's 2010 Employer Health Benefits survey, about one-third of firms with more than 50 workers said they made changes in the benefits they offer in response to the law, and 5% of those said they dropped mental-health coverage.

Bruce Dow, the chief executive of SAG's Producers Pension and Health Plans, said actuaries consulted by the plan determined that equalizing mental-health and substance-abuse coverage would double costs, to north of $3 million annually. That's on top of a deficit expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars in 2011, the plan's board of trustees has told participants.
Gee, who would have thought that requiring insurance plans to increase benefits would also increase costs?