Monday, June 25, 2012

GAO suggests 9 ways to replace Affordable Care Mandate.

Yes, Republicans will never allow a fix to get people to sign on to the Affordable Care Act's benefits, but the GAO made these suggestions anyway. They received input from those listed at the bottom of this post. After hearing the partisan lunacy of the conservative activist Justices compare the mandate to forcing people to buy broccoli, food, and health club memberships, its no secret which way these guys will legislate from the bench.

Results in Brief: The experts we interviewed discussed several specific approaches to encourage voluntary health insurance enrollment during our interviews. The approaches are summarized below, generally presented in the order of frequency with which they were proposed by the experts for consideration.

• Modify open enrollment periods and impose late enrollment penalties.
• Expand employers’ roles in auto-enrolling and facilitating insurance enrollment.
Conduct a public education and outreach campaign.
• Provide broad access to personalized assistance for health coverage enrollment. 
• Impose a tax to pay for uncompensated care.
• Allow greater variation in premium rates based on enrollee age. 
• Condition the receipt of certain government services upon proof of health insurance coverage.
• Use health insurance agents and brokers differently.
• Require or encourage credit rating agencies to use health insurance status as a factor in determining credit ratings. 

Four key themes emerged. First, experts emphasized that most people would prefer to purchase health insurance coverage; however, to the extent that high cost is a barrier, the use of financial incentives is key. Second, they stated the availability of affordable, high-quality health care plans with a basic set of benefits, and full coverage of preventive care services is essential to encouraging voluntary enrollment in the coverage. Third, experts said that strong marketing and public education from trusted, community-based sources informing people about their health care choices, their costs, and the consequences of not enrolling in a timely manner are important. And fourth, they said convenient access to multiple access points staffed by knowledgeable individuals would further facilitate enrollment.  

The problem with any marketing campaign to get the message out, is that most sources have been vilified by the conservative media already. And if they haven't been trashed yet, they will be. Expect corporate front groups like Concerned Women for America to advance their paranoid "what if" scenarios, that play so well on the conservative "someones getting something for nothing" psyche. 
America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Enterprise Institute, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Assurant Health, Blackstone Group, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbia University, Consumers Union, Council of State Governments, Harvard University, Kaiser Family Foundation, The Heritage Foundation, The Lewin Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Business Group on Health, The Urban Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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