Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

October 31, 2013

Those lost health plans

(Continued)

Some of their plans won’t be touched, regardless, because the law grandfathers some old plans into the system. Some of the people who must transition onto different benefit packages might actually pay little extra, or even less, than they do now because the law will place new limits on how much insurance companies can mark up plans for the old and the sick and because the government will help a majority of people in the individual market pay for coverage. But there are some people — no one seems to know how many, exactly — who will end up paying more for insurance next year because they make too much to qualify for government subsidies, because they are young, because their previous coverage was shoddy, or, probably, a combination of the above.

Though some people might pay more than they did before, they and many others will also get more. Among other things, they will be less financially vulnerable when they get sick — in some cases dramatically less. Their new plans will also put taxpayers at less risk of having to cover big medical bills when under-insured patients unexpectedly fall very ill. That goes, too, for people who currently decline to buy insurance but who will have to next year.

Reform still might not sound like a great deal to people who are young, feel healthy and don’t want to pay for coverage. Yet having lots of healthy people paying into the new system on its terms will not only limit their financial risk, but also their participation will allow others who have been priced out of the health-insurance market — those with serious preexisting conditions, for example — to obtain good coverage. They deserve compassion, too.

None of this is an outrage. It’s the predictable result of a defensible policy choice embedded in the reform.

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