Idaho: Moving beyond restrictions of ObamaCare

Friday, January 26, 2018
Chris Woodward (

electronic health records EHRIdaho's move to allow consumer choice in health insurance is being viewed as an important first step, but one observer says more should be done to help people in The Gem State and beyond.

Following an executive order from the governor and lieutenant governor, Idaho's Department of Insurance has revealed a plan that will allow insurance companies to sell policies that do not comply with Affordable Care Act (aka, ObamaCare) regulations.

"If you go back before ObamaCare, people had the choice to buy the policies that fit them," responds Fred Birnbaum, vice president of Idaho Freedom Foundation. "The whole notion that we can straightjacket 330 million people into this 'ten essential benefits' bucket ... just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.


"So I think that one of the first notions that would follow is the fact that people shouldn't be compelled to buy insurance, which has now been put forth in the tax bill. The second notion should be they ought to be able to buy the policy that worked for them and their families."

According to Birnbaum, the Affordable Care Act has done more harm than good.

"The evidence of that is the fact that premiums have gone up many multiples of inflation. That's not just my data, that's fact – and in fact, the [state] director of insurance will tell you that," he continues. "That's one of the reasons for selling non-compliant ACA plans."

Meanwhile, Birnbaum would still like to see a repeal of ObamaCare.

"It is a very convoluted thing," he shares. "I think it's hard to just pick at provisions of it, so I would repeal it and I would look at insurance truly as insurance for most people – and that it is, to guard against catastrophic events."

Birnbaum thinks a high-deductible policy for many people combined with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) would accomplish what most people need.

"Then you have two other groups: you have those who are poor or don't have enough income to actually afford policies; and then you have people with chronic diseases – and the people with chronic diseases and or the poor typically would not be able to buy insurance," he adds.

"In other words, the rates would be very high; and the tragedy of ObamaCare was that it tried to throw everyone in one bucket. I think you have to separate people with chronic conditions from healthy people. In fact, that's sort of happening now in stages – and the non-10 essential benefits plans are an example of that."

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