If Supremes overturn health care law...

It would bring the nation back to square one on reform, according to an editorial by Bloomberg News (not exactly a socialist bastion). That's not good. Actually it might be worse than square one because lawmakers would be reluctant to consider any new legislation.

The big elements are obvious: Without the law, insurance companies could keep turning away people with pre-existing conditions or charging them higher premiums. They could maintain annual caps and restore lifetime caps on how much they spend on care for an individual policyholder. They could stop paying the full cost of preventive services such as mammograms, flu shots and well-child visits. And young adults would no longer be guaranteed coverage on their parents' plan until age 26.

We couldn't look forward to state insurance exchanges, those competitive online marketplaces where, starting in 2014, people without coverage from employers should be able to buy health insurance using federal subsidies. And, with no subsidies and no expansion of Medicaid, we'd give up on the promise of insuring 32 million more Americans.

Many less-often-discussed pieces of the 2,000-page law are valuable as well. Consider the "medical loss ratio" -- the requirement that for every dollar insurance companies collect in premiums, they spend no more than 15 cents to 20 cents on administration and profits. The rest has to go toward medical claims. Before the law, insurance companies often spent 25 percent to 30 percent of the money on administrative costs and profits.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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