UnitedHealth, Aetna, and Humana announced today that they will maintain some provisions of Obamacare even if the Supreme Court rules against the law later this month, but the most important part of today’s announcement is what they will not maintain.
Customers of UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. health insurer, can keep children on plans until age 26, get free preventive care and won’t face lifetime benefit limits, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company said yesterday in a statement. The insurer also won’t rescind policies except for cases of fraud and will retain a simplified appeals process for denials.
Aetna, the third-largest health insurer by market value, said today it would cover preventive services, let young adults stay on their parents’ plans and continue outside reviews of coverage denial appeals. [...]
“A number of provisions in the health-reform law have been woven into the fabric of our health-care system, bring value to customers and consumers, and should be maintained,” Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna said in an e-mail.
Humana (HUM) said today it would maintain various coverage provisions, all of which match UnitedHealth’s pledge.
“Humana believes its health plan members should have the peace of mind of knowing the company embraces and will maintain these common-sense provisions that add stability and security to health-care coverage,” the Louisville, Kentucky-based company said in a statement.
What each insurer has not agreed to continue is covering those with pre-existing conditions if the law is struck down.
The explanation for that is simple. Without an individual mandate, the cost of covering those with pre-existing conditions will be unmanageable. And with any luck, the Supreme Court is listening.
The legal objection to Obamacare is centered around the individual mandate, and the Supreme Court has been put into a position where it will either be forced to repeal the entire law or uphold the entire law because, in their own words, repealing just the individual mandate would require far more nuance in their decisions.
From my perspective, today’s announcement by the insurance industry represents a coded message to the Supreme Court meant to encourage them to uphold the law. Because the industry is admitting that the other provisions in the law have had no adverse effects on their business, but repealing the individual mandate by itself will.
Upholding the entire law seems far more likely to me than either repealing the entire law or just the individual mandate. It’s the path of least resistance.