As the Administration gears up to sell Obamacare to the American people, it’s also gearing up its regulatory apparatus to strong-arm private companies.
The Hill reports that even though the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) previously claimed that it would not try to negotiate rates with insurance companies, in reality HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is doing just that:
“The department is working with state regulators to approach insurers whose rates come in significantly higher or lower than average to make sure their filings are correct,” a senior HHS official said.
So if insurance companies don’t offer the “correct” price, officials from HHS will tell them to come back and try again. Perhaps this is what Vice President Joe Biden meant when, just before Obamacare passed, he said that “we’re going to control the insurance companies.”
Obamacare relies on a series of strong-arm tactics to “control” prices—from price controls on insurance companies to a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats empowered to keep Medicare spending below an arbitrary target. But the real problem with Obamacare is that it forces individuals to buy more insurance than they might want or need, raising premiums in the process. No amount of top-down government controls—or “encouraging” insurance companies to offer the “correct” prices—can change that fact.
So while Secretary Sebelius and HHS continue their intrusive, government-centered tactics to try to offset the premium increases many Americans will see next year, there’s another concept the Administration should try. It’s called free markets and competition.