Oklahoma Health Insurance Exchange or Faustian Bargain?

Kaye Beach

Sept. 13, 2011

A Faustian Bargain is a deal with the devil.  The stories vary but the gist of them all is that you exchange something terribly precious for what turns out to be in the long run, no more than ashes and that’s too bad because once the deal is struck there is no going back.

The first committee hearing on Federal Health Care Reform Law will be held tomorrow Sept. 14 at the Oklahoma State Capital in the House Chamber beginning at 9 AM.  It is the first of five hearings to be held through November.

What is the he purpose of these hearings?

According to our elected representatives;

[Sen. Stansilawski] “Oklahoma patients, taxpayers, businesses, health practitioners, insurers and others all have wide-ranging questions and concerns about this largely unwanted new federal law. The law will affect all Oklahomans, some in significant ways, so this committee will seek to address all relevant questions and concerns for the benefit of all Oklahomans.” 

 [Senator] Bingman said he wants to assure “health care choices, not mandates.” In today’s statement, he characterized the upcoming hearings as “an opportunity for Oklahoma to assert our state’s rights and I’m confident all stakeholders will rise to the challenge so we can avoid dangerous federal mandates wherever possible.”

[Speaker of the House] Kris Steele said, “The committee will explore all possibilities for putting forth Oklahoma solutions that support a free market health care system.”    Read more from CapitolBeatOK

A brief review  of the issue;

Oklahoma is one of 28 states that has filed suit against the federal government to challenge the constitutionality of the federal health care reforms.

It is a contentious issue to be sure.

The Oklahoma Governor accepted federal funding to develop the Health Insurance Exchange but following outrage from conservatives, she decided to return the funds in April of this year.

Legislation necessary to enable the Health Insurance Exchanges was rejected by the public and ultimately Oklahoma legislators leaving the state in a quandary.  The Health Insurance Exchange is essential to our participation in the Federal Health Care Reform law but the people and the state have both taken the stance of rejecting that law

First of all, what is a Health Insurance Exchange?

-According to this brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation found on the Oklahoma Insurance Department website;

[A Health Insurance Exchange is]”a new entity intended to create a more organized and competitive market for health insurance by offering a choice of plans, establishing common rules regarding the offering and pricing of insurance, and providing information to help consumers better understand the options available to them.”

-And this brief also from the Kaiser Family Foundation also listed among preparatory materials on the Oklahoma Insurance Department website, tells us that;

“An Exchange must be a governmental agency or nonprofit entity that is established by a state.”

Answer– in a nutshell, a Health Insurance Exchange is a new entity intended to create a competitive market for health insurance by establishing rules regarding offering of health insurance and pricing that is established by the state government.

Got that?

Number 2.   What is the importance of having a health insurance exchange?

‘Insurance Exchanges, a key component of the Affordable Care Act’

Feb 10, 2011 . . . the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s blog looks at the Health Insurance Exchanges that are a key component of the Affordable Care Act, the new federal health care reform law.

Richey says that one of the most important provisions in the “Affordable Care Act (ACT)” is the “requirement that states establish private insurance marketplaces, or Exchanges’, to sell plans to individuals and small groups in their state.”  Read more from CapitolBeatOK

Answer-Health Insurance Exchanges are “a key component of the Affordable Care Act, the new federal health care reform law.”  States are required to create Health Insurance Exchanges per the federal health care reform law aka “Obamacare”

Here is a visual on the Oklahoma Health Insurance Exchange

I know that is not very clear but what it shows is the paths and connections made as a variety of your personal information travels through the exchange.

Here is a much clearer picture of where all that personal health info is going.

From the National Conference of State Legislatures;

“The Affordable Care Act requires state-based American Health Benefit Exchanges to be established and working by 2014.  Exchanges are, for most states, new entities that will function as a marketplace for buyers of health insurance. . .” (Emphasis mine) read more

Think about that statement.  These Exchanges will function as a marketplace.

Saying that the state based exchange will “function as” is the same as saying “in lieu of”, “in place of” or “rather than” a free market exchange.

A free market, by definition,  is a market free from state intervention.

The truth is that while our elected representatives keep using terms such as “free market” when speaking about the state exchanges, a government managed exchange is antithetical to a free market anything!

More Questions. . .

I may be dense here but I am having difficulty understanding how the state will set up an Exchange that will;

  1. truly exist for the purpose of serving the needs of the people of the state of Oklahoma
  2. be secure and protect the privacy interests of the owners of this highly  sensitive information
  3. not also serve the purpose of fulfilling the necessary mandate of the Federal Health Care Reform law that the people and the state have said they don’t want.

Creating this exchange looks to be the last nail in the coffin for Oklahoma and Obamacare.

If he exchange is set up, aren’t we then married to the federal plan?

As OK-SAFE explained last spring;

“The Health Insurance Exchange will be connected to the “other” exchange – the Health Information Exchange (HIE).

We will live with both managed care and managed competition in an e-health system where invisible ‘navigators’ help consumers make ‘appropriate’ health care choices online; where actually visiting a real doctor is limited to ‘qualified’ consumers; where everyone has a health ID card tied to their bank; where people are indirectly forced to participate in state-run exchanges in order to qualify for the tax credits necessary to offset their new $24,000/person annual health insurance premiums; and where no single insurance carrier will be burdened with too many sick people,”

What is a Health Information Exchange (HIE)?

—the electronic movement of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards.

As we should realize by now, “nationally recognized standards” really just means ‘national standards’ and ‘national standards’ really means state administered but federal controlled.

Deborah Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights makes a sobering prediction;

“2011 will be the year that Americans recognize they can’t control personal health information in health IT systems and data exchanges.”

Find out more here

I have many more questions about both the desirability and feasibility of a Health Insurance Exchange. These meetings, we are told, are designed to answer all of these questions.  That is why I will go.

Various “stakeholders” will be present to give their views.  Let’s make sure that the most important stakeholder of all- the taxpaying citizen is there as well.

3 responses to “Oklahoma Health Insurance Exchange or Faustian Bargain?

  1. Oh great… If the RINO’s push this through we will live in a country where ya have to prove you have health insurance but not prove that your a citizen…

  2. Kaye, thanks for your continued work.

    I have used this post of yours on our Cherokee County website with a stub and a link here to your blog.

  3. Pingback: Oklahoma Health Insurance Exchange or Faustian Bargain? | Cherokee County Republican Party

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