Transparency, Costs, Choices – A Trifecta!

Plan-B-Obama-Truck-ROHBarth Bracy is the head of the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee and a resident of Dayville, Connecticut.

He is also a man who was notified that his $494 a month health care insurance plan which he obtained through Blue Cross and Blue Shield would be cancelled because it did not meet certain requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

After being notified of the impending cancellation of his policy, Bracy went looking for a similar plan.

He and his wife, Abbie — also a plaintiff

in the suit — could buy a health plan through Access Health CT, Connecticut’s Obamacare health exchange, and pay far less than they pay for the BlueCross BlueShield plan — as little as $2.63 per month. But Bracy says that’s no option at all, because all the plans offered through the exchange require enrollees to pay a nominal fee for coverage of abortions.

They could buy insurance independently, without going through the Connecticut exchange, but without the federal subsidies that are helping to make the exchange plans affordable, the cheapest plan would cost about $900 per month — nearly double the cost of their BlueCross BlueShield plan, and more than they can afford, Bracy said.

Or, if they do not sign up for insurance, they face fines that could rise to more than $1,000 per year, he said.

Bracy, who is devoutly Catholic, is obviously against abortion. His plan under Blue Cross and Blue Shield did not cover abortions. That was his choice. In a world where abortion proponents are called “pro-choice,” one would think that people (including the government) would support his choice not only to not have his insurance premiums cover abortions for him, but cover abortions for anyone else. He didn’t want his money being used to fund an activity which he is against.

When Bracy turned to the Connecticut Heath Care Exchange, he found something interesting. Not only could be not tell what was covered under the various plans, the rules of the exchange prevented him from knowing what was covered until he actually signed up for a plan.

The Affordable Care Act, as administered and enforced by Defendants, prohibits an insurer from disclosing to individuals seeking to enroll in a health insurance plan whether a plan covers elective abortions or the amount of the separate abortion premium until the point of enrollment. Specifically, it states:

(3) Rules relating to notice.

(A) Notice. A qualified health plan that provides for coverage of the services described in paragraph (1)(B)(i) [elective abortion] shall provide a notice to enrollees, only as part of the summary of benefits and coverage explanation, at the time of enrollment, of such coverage.

(B) Rules relating to payments. The notice described in subparagraph (A), any advertising used by the issuer with respect to the plan, any information provided by the Exchange, and any other information specified by the Secretary shall provide information only with respect to the total amount of the combined payments for services described in paragraph (1)(B)(i) and other services covered by the plan

Bracy had to get the information on whether there were any plans on the exchange which did not include abortions through a third party. The people running the exchange would not tell him.

In short, in this age of “transparency,” Bracy was being led into a contract where he did not know all of the details or coverage.

(Apparently, the folks running Access Health Connecticut don’t understand this “transparency thing either as on their site they pledge:

Transparency – all Exchange activities should be open to the public, its services easily available, and its information easily understood by the population it assists.)

Finally, the costs of this need to be examined. First you have Bracy’s $494 per month plan that he likes and is happy with. That plan went up $70 per month from 2012 to 2013 due to additional costs from the ACA. As the Providence Journal noted, Bracy could have gotten a plan through the exchanges for $2.63 a month (yes, that is two dollars and sixty three cents a month) with subsidies, but that leads to the question of “if a similar plan costs $494 from an insurer, who is footing the $491.37 difference between the Blue Cross plan and the subsidized plan on the exchange?”

If the only plan he could buy outside of the exchange is nearly twice as much as he is paying now, where is that difference going? Does the government just assume that anyone who can acts reasonably and budgets money either must require subsidies or be charged twice as much as they were being charged previously?

Bracy and his wife, along with help from the group Alliance Defending Freedom, have filed suit against the government alleging their rights secured by the Free Exercise Clause, RFRA and the Connecticut Religious Freedom Restoration Act have been violated.

They also claim that their 1st Amendment right to receive information is infringed by regulations that prohibit insurers or exchanges from advertising whether plans cover abortions, from informing enrollees prior to the time of enrollment whether the plan covers abortion, and prohibits telling enrollees the portion of their total premium that is allocated to abortion coverage.

The complaint can be seen here.

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