HHS Waivers and the Three I’s of Obamacare

Edmund Haislmaier /

Yuval Levin has made the important point that, when HHS granted waivers exempting some employer health plans from Obamacare’s prohibition on annual benefit limits, it was the “kind of government by whim, and not by law” that is “the essence of the regulatory state.” It is indeed a very troubling effect, and one that will be a byproduct of numerous other Obamacare provisions as well.

That said, it is worth noting that the “McDonald’s issue” also highlights the ignorance and incompetence behind the crafting of this health-care legislation.

As to the first: Anyone with more than a passing familiarity with health-insurance markets should be aware of the existence of the so-called “mini-med” plans in question. Mini-med health plans are essentially the mirror image of “high-deductible” plans. They cover routine care with little or no co-pays, but not major medical expenses. Most people probably don’t know that, it’s true, but it’s simply inexcusable to be a congressman (or a congressional health staffer) responsible for writing this legislation and not realize that prohibiting health plans from setting annual coverage limits will drive mini-med plans out of the market. (more…)