Dumbing Down Health Benefits: More Bad Ideas From Insurance Hustlers

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 12.12.19 PMThe U.S. House has passed an interesting little bill titled “Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014.”

This innocuous little title hides behind it a serious threat to both the Affordable Care Act and to some of the 13 million immigrants living and working in the U.S.

The supposed idea behind this bill is to make legal an insurance product for sale to people who spend considerable portions of their time living outside of their countries.

In order to free insurance companies to sell these products the bill exempts this type of insurance from significant portions of the ACA, including minimum benefit coverage. Dumbing down the benefits under the ACA is exactly the wrong direction to take, but there is an even bigger problem with this bill.

The bill’s authors have decided to provide a new definition of what an expatriate is for the purpose of the Act and have swept in every lawfully present emigrant (LPE) in the country – all 13 million of them.

Since the bill also designates that this “ex-pat” coverage will automatically satisfy the requirements of the ACA for required coverage, the scheme threatens the health benefits for millions of people. Employers who hire lawfully present emigrants can satisfy their employer responsibilities under the ACA by offering them low value benefit plans.

Let me be clear:  While their fellow employees who are not LPEs will get the good benefits, the LPEs will get the crap.

Creating any reduced benefit system for any category under the ACA is a bad idea. The benefits need to be strengthened and broadened. But the bill is made even more horrible by creating another category of second-class treatment for immigrants.

The bill – H.R. 4414 – is being heavily lobbied in the Congress by the Cigna Insurance Company and is being pushed by the Senators from Delaware in particular. Apparently Cigna has threatened to kill 500 jobs in Delaware if the bill handing them all this new business fails to pass the Congress.

Once again the lives of the vulnerable are being threatened by the extortionist behavior of corporate America. Call your senators and tell them to stop HR. 4414.