"I don't know," he said, "I'll try to find out."
So I asked an expert, Roy Ranthum, who helped the U.S. Treasury implement health savings accounts when they were first enabled in the 2003 Medicare prescription drug plan, and now runs an HSA consulting business. Will Josh and 8 million other Americans get to keep their HSA plans?
"It's not completely clear," Ray tells me. I'm getting tired of hearing this answer. What? Nearly 2,500 pages of legislation and one of the nation's leading experts can't even tell Josh whether he's going to keep his health plan he loves? Why not? "It depends on regulations that the secretary of (Health and Human Services) will issue," Roy says.
Nobody knows, because the answer is unknowable -- it depends on what Kathleen Sebelius says.
That's right. You will be forced to buy the kind of insurance that the secretary of HHS decides you must buy. The rules will vary whether you are rich or poor, over 30 or under 30. It's complex. And the rules will be permanently unknowable with any certainty. Because, I ask Roy, doesn't that mean a new secretary of HHS can change the regs down the road? "Yes," he says.
This is truly history-making. Unprecedented. When Congress passed Medicare, people knew what it would do. The uncertainty pervading ObamaCare is not an accident, and it is not the fault of the press; it is the result of a deliberate strategic decision by the Democrats to have a bill that was less transparent than invisible, held off-stage until the last moment to prevent Americans from knowing what is in it. This decision to withhold an actual text until right before the vote was compounded by a further decision to delegate to a Cabinet official (can Congress even do that?) the regulatory authority to decide the key questions that determine how this bill affects millions of Americans. Can you keep your insurance? No one knows.
Radical permanent political health care uncertainty. Thanks, President Obama.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.