Last week's bombshell was that McDonald's may drop coverage for its 30,000 workers unless the Obama administration waives some rules. The central planners of the Obama administration decided in their infinite wisdom that all insurers should spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of their revenues on patient care, a mandate aimed at minimizing administrative costs. It's natural to assume that higher patient-care ratios are better for consumers, but there's no proof of that. Health economist James C. Robinson explained years ago that "medical loss ratios" are just an accounting tool and were "never intended to measure quality or efficiency. ... More direct measures of quality are available."
The Wall Street Journal reports: "Insurers say dozens of other employers could find themselves in the same situation as McDonald's. Aetna Inc. ... provides (similar) plans to Home Depot Inc., Disney Worldwide Services, CVS Caremark Corp., Staples Inc. and Blockbuster Inc., among others, according to an Aetna client list."
McDonald's may get a waiver, but I like the Cato Institute's Michael Cannon's take on that: "Sorry, but I don't find it comforting that Obamacare gives HHS the power to waive these regulations on a case-by-case basis. Power corrupts. We've already seen HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius use other powers granted her by Obamacare to threaten insurers who contradict the party line."
In a letter to the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, Sebelius wrote there would be "zero tolerance" for companies that attribute "unjustified rate increases" to Obamacare. "Simply stated," she wrote, "we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections."
In other words: "We have repealed the basic laws of economics. Insurance companies must now give people more but not charge them for it. If you do charge more, you must not tell your customers why. Shut up, obey, and don't complain. We are your rulers."