Essential Health Benefits to be Defined at State LevelJanuary 4th, 2012
In a move intended to make The Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, acceptable to a greater percentage of the population, the Obama administration has announced that major health care decisions will be under the control of the individual states. The landmark health care legislation puts forth a system in which all Americans must be covered for “essential health benefits,” but the law does not spell these out in detail. Critics of the law have long expected the administration to draw up a list of benefits considered “essential.” Instead, each state will be empowered to draw up its own list of “essential health benefits” within the large categories of health care defined by the federal government.
Under the ObamaCare plan, most Americans would have to obtain health insurance if they do not already possess it. The stated intention of the law was to make sure that Americans would be able to fully access the health care system. Currently, those who are uninsured may only have emergency room access, which is an expensive and inefficient way to treat many kinds of conditions. The new rules announced by the administration, however, may put the primary goal of the legislation in peril. This is because some states may define “essential” benefits so narrowly that Americans are still left without coverage for some of their basic health care needs.
The situation is analogous to the one that dominates education policy at present. Students in all states must be “proficient” in math and language arts, but individual states are allowed to define what level of mastery will be considered “proficient.” The result has been a patchwork of standards across the nation, with some states actually defining a high school student “proficient” if he or she can read at the 4th grade level.
Most critics regard such a system as states abdicating their responsibility to abide by the law at all. Likewise, those concerned about health coverage in the United States now worry that some states will refuse to define “essential health benefits” at a realistic level. This may be particularly true in states whose governors and legislatures were already highly resistant to the requirements of ObamaCare in the first place.
On the other hand, a measure of local control may well help to silence those critics who contend that ObamaCare boils down to a system of “one size fits all” when it comes to health care coverage. In the federal system used by the United States, the individual states are supposed to be engines of experimentation, able to try new things to see what works and what does not work. The new ObamaCare rules will give states the freedom to do exactly that, and should calm fears that all health care in the U.S. would be controlled by federal bureaucrats once the provisions of ObamaCare are fully in effect
Regardless of state-mandated minimums, Americans need to be sure they carry a health insurance policy that will fully meet the needs of their families. To purchase a policy online, visit a health insurance comparison website that will make the process of find multiple health insurance quotes fast and simple.