If there’s one thing Republicans hate, it’s an actual free market with actual competition. The reason is simple: real competition is better for consumers and worse for corporate profits. A prime example of this is the resistance to the Obamacare healthcare exchanges set to begin this year. The exchanges will allow consumers to compare insurance plans in an open and direct way, practically a death sentence for price gouging. And it’s already starting to work.
Via Oregon Live:
On Thursday, a comparison of proposed 2014 health premiums became public online, causing two insurers to request do-overs to lower their rates even before the state determines whether they’re justified.
The unusual development was sparked by a comparison that used to be impossible because plan benefits varied so widely. But under the federal reforms that take effect Jan. 1, health insurance is mandated and every insurer must offer certain standard plans.
Starting in October, the change will drive competition in a health insurance marketplace called Cover Oregon where individual consumers and small business owners can comparison shop. Though the state’s comparison charts are far less detailed, they foreshadow what Cover Oregon is trying to do.
“Posting rate comparisons company-by-company is a taste of what is to come,” says Cheryl Martinis of the Oregon Insurance Division.
That’s how a free and open market is supposed to work. Price gouging becomes impossible when you can’t corner a market or hide your prices behind red tape.
By mandating the basic options of insurance plans, Obamacare has (or will in a few months) made it easy for we, the consumer, to see what we’re being offered by eliminating the legalese gobbledygook that currently obscures the benefits we’re paying for. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is trying to do much the same thing for credit card agreements and, again, the GOP is dead set against making it easy for consumers to make informed choices.
The real problem for the GOP is that all this rampant competition will make it clear to the public just how much the health insurance industry has been abusing them for decades. Oregon Live gives a stark example of this by citing a $169 a month plan from one insurer compared to the $422 from another for the same plan. A 250% difference is not competition, it’s deception and outright theft. But Obamacare solves that problem and makes the GOP’s talking points about the “evils of Obamacare” look suspicious indeed.
After all, if the market was truly free and open with all the healthy competition the right claims is already there, why are the pricing schemes so out of whack?
The GOP’s only hope at this point is to spread as much disinformation about Obamacare as possible, now, before the full benefits kick in and become apparent to the public. At the very least, Republicans can mitigate the popularity of the program and the attendant backlash against the politicians that have been actively trying to kill it since its inception. What they won’t be able to do, though, is throw the public back under the bus for corporate profits.