HB 1008 represents an aggressive attack on hard-won health care freedoms
In early January, Colorado House Democrats introduced HB20-1008 in an effort to impose new guidelines and stricter regulations on health care sharing plans, also known as health care sharing ministries or simply HCSMs. Proponents of the bill are arguing that increased reporting and regulation will “protect the doctor-patient relationship” and “increase provider transparency” by making these plans operate more similarly to traditional insurance.
This might sound like legitimate reasoning for a professional on Capitol Hill who surely has their own healthcare needs covered. But to us, it sounds suspiciously like the rhetoric of insurance lobbyists who are sweating over the number of Coloradoans who are switching to health sharing.
How HB 1008 Reduces Consumer Choice
Perhaps the greatest insult of HB 1008 is the proposed blackout period for health share enrollment, a move that serves no conceivable purpose except to push consumers back onto traditional health insurance, even if they can’t afford it. If the bill is made into law, consumers would be unable to enroll in a health share plan during open enrollment season for health benefit plans, forcing vulnerable populations to stick with expensive, unsubsidized ACA insurance at a time of year when money is the tightest.
Here’s the thing about health care sharing plans: we know that they’re not for everybody. But there are many thousands of Coloradoans who have turned to these plans as a direct result of the ACA’s ridiculous plan costs, especially those who are making slightly too much to qualify for a subsidy.
At ColoHealth, we don’t center our business practices around telling people what’s best for them, or forcing people to choose a plan that seems to put money in everyone’s pocket but their own. Instead, we’re about illuminating all of the available opportunities and then letting the consumer decide for themselves.
We would have hoped that members of the Colorado House would see it the same. Unfortunately, the entrenched health insurance complex has more lobbyists that we care to count, and frankly, we can smell their stench all over this.
The Very Real (& Unrealistic) Costs of the Affordable Care Act
With the Affordable Care Act, people who make under 400% of the national poverty level can qualify for significant subsidies that go a long way towards offsetting the costs of health care. But the moment someone breaks that limit, their subsidies are terminated, and they are very likely to see their monthly insurance premiums doubling or even tripling overnight.
This is the precise reason that medical cost sharing organizations have been able to capture a larger and larger percentage of the overall market, but offering a legal, innovative way for consumers to avoid the high costs and convoluted structures of Obamacare altogether.
Don’t Let the Government Tell You What’s Best for You
Whether you are happy with your ACA health insurance plan or excited to be saving money every month with the help of a health sharing plan, it is hard to argue with the concept of choice. We believe that the government, on both the state and federal levels, has no business telling us Americans how to manage our own self-care.
At the moment, House Bill HB 1008 has been transferred to the House Appropriations committee for review, and by the time you read this, could very well be on its way to becoming law.
Contacting Rep. Susan Lontine (D-Denver) and Sen. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) is unlikely to have much of an effect at this stage in the game. But dedicating ourselves to a focused, ongoing push towards increased consumer freedoms is something that can be done all year-round, by researching the different options that are available to you.
Remember, it’s YOUR health and YOUR dollar. Why shouldn’t it be YOUR choice?
Wiley Long is the president of ColoHealth, and has been in the health insurance industry since 1987. He received his master’s degree in nutrition and exercise science at Colorado State University, and is passionate about individual healthcare freedom. Read more about Wiley on his Bio page.