[ Monday, December 02, 2002 ]


Not really portable. A new report notes that the portability provisions of HIPAA and COBRA aren't really working to ensure that folks who lose their jobs or change jobs continue to have health insurance. Actually, the study notes the fact that few people take advantage of COBRA or HIPPA portability provisions and uses that as proof that HIPAA and COBRA don't work. As it turns out, people don't want to pay for COBRA coverage, and don't necessarily get as good insurance at their new employer as they had at their former employer, so HIPAA portability still results in them downgrading their insurance coverage.

Well. That's quite a conclusion. You leave a job with mediocre pay and great insurance benefits, and take a job with great pay and mediocre insurance benefits, then obviously HIPPA portability is a failure. Or if you leave or lose your job and have to pay the cost of the insurance your prior employer was providing, and that turns out to be more than you want to spend, then COBRA is a failure.

Guess what? Health care costs money. Insurance to pay for health care costs money. Wanting it to be free, or having "grave concerns" that people aren't willing to cover the cost out of their own pocket (but obviously are willing to cover the cost out of their employer's pocket), doesn't mean the system is broken. If the recipients of the insurance don't pay, who should?

How do we fix the problems with the COBRA and HIPAA portability systems? Regulatory reform to make somebody else pay. Here's the money quote: "This could entail an obligation for employers to continue their contributions for former workers for some amount of time. It will most likely also require some form of subsidy through direct government outlays or tax credits."

Jeff [11:09 AM]

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