Repeatedly in defense of his marquee legislative accomplishment, President Obama claimed that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”
I can’t read a man’s heart, so I can’t say with confidence whether Mr. Obama was simply lying or, like then-Speaker Pelosi, he actually hadn’t read the bill, but I can say that my family and I recently learned that under ObamaCare, you can’t keep your health care plan no matter how much you like it.
By way of background, I have had a “individual” health savings account through Blue Cross since I started with Rio Grande Foundation in early 2006. Health savings accounts are the most market oriented of health insurance plans because they provide relatively “bare-bones” insurance policies that are supplemented by pre-tax savings accounts designed to pay for day-to-day health care expenses.
Over the years I have added my wife and two young daughters to the plan. My family’s monthly premium is approximately $330 per month. Yes, we are relatively healthy, but we have used the plan and the thousands of dollars of health savings that we have built up for health care costs which included two ER visits during 2014 alone. We have also used those savings for chiropractor visits and physical therapy.
My point is that we were very happy with our insurance plan. It fit with my ideological desire to have something resembling a free market health policy that put me, not my employer or insurance company in charge of my health care decisions. It was also reasonably priced for my family and my non-profit employer.
While my plan was “grandfathered” for a year, I knew that it was scheduled to be canceled under ObamaCare at the end of 2014. I recently received a letter from Blue Cross to that effect.
I can’t even begin looking for a new insurance policy until mid-November. According to media reports, a total of 30,000 New Mexicans are in the same proverbial boat.
The good news is that more so than a vast majority of New Mexicans, I, my wife, and our kids are healthy and I know my way around government rules and regulations and, hopefully, will be able to figure out a decent new plan. The bad news is that I run a non-profit that can’t afford a massive increase in health insurance rates. I’d be “thrilled” if my monthly policy merely doubles in price under ObamaCare, but I have no way to know that until at least mid-November.
And this is the real issue with ObamaCare and so much of what government does both here in New Mexico and in Washington. Rather than setting basic rules and regulations under which all are treated equally and individuals are free to make their own choices, politicians seem to think they know more about what is good for us than we do.
ObamaCare is just the tip of the iceberg which happens to be impacting my family in a very real and personal way. Energy regulations and the blind push for politically-correct energy sources impacts our energy costs. Regulations on everyone from hair-stylists to ride-share firms presume that average people (you) are simply too stupid and ill-informed to make the “right” choice and that you need big-government there to tell you what to do.
And don’t even get me started on education which is a government-run monopoly with school choices dependant on where you live.
The Rio Grande Foundation is a think tank. We deal a lot in numbers, data, and abstract policy issues. But in this case bad policies in Washington have hit me and my family by interfering with our health care. It only makes me wish to work harder to bring more freedom to New Mexicans and ultimately our nation.
This November, I hope New Mexicans will vote for candidates that respect individuals and their choices, not the whims of bureaucrats and politicians.
Paul Gessing is the President of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.