Bob Laszewski is an insurance health industry expert we regularly track to stay up to speed on the national healthcare picture. His typically even-handed analysis has been consistently the most accurate of any of the opinion leaders we follow. Here’s how Laszewski summed up the primary reason for our country’s runaway healthcare costs during a recent interview broadcast on the national news program Full Measure in a segment entitled Zombiecare:
“The healthcare establishment has been getting unlimited dollars from government, from employers, from consumers. They built this incredible infrastructure now that’s very expensive. And the only way we’re going to make healthcare more affordable is to deal with all this infrastructure we’ve got and get it to an efficient place.”
When asked how we address this infrastructure problem, here’s the pragmatic Laszewski take:
“We’re going to have to do it over many years. In the private sector and the public sector, we’re going to have to put them on a diet. It really is the prices we charge. We’re going to have to, in real terms, ratchet those back so that hospitals and doctors understand there’s going to be less money in the years to come.”
During the interview Laszewski addressed several things related to the current status of health insurance and the Affordable Care Act. Among the items he addressed:
The Individual Mandate and Paying the Penalty
“The law technically says that you have to have health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance, you will pay a fine. But the Trump administration has told the Internal Revenue Service, who is in charge of collecting the fines, that when people file their tax returns, if they refuse to say whether they have health insurance or not, the IRS should not pursue them. You technically have to pay it. Your accountant’s probably going to tell you, you technically have to pay it, but it’s not being enforced.”
ObamaCare as Zombie Care(because a Zombie is the walking dead)
“Obamacare is still there, it’s still walking around. It’s still selling health insurance plans to people. But it has no chance in its present form of ever offering affordable and attractive health insurance. And more and more people are just exiting it and going uncovered because they can’t afford it.”
Our takeaway from all this? Be smart. Stay incredibly vigilant. Take full advantage of every tool we have at our disposal to do the best we can to help our clients control costs and navigate the turbulent healthcare waters.
There’s still no clear big picture path anywhere in sight.