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How Congress Uses Investigations to Let Companies Know Who's Boss

Reuters reported last week that the Democratically controlled House of Representatives “launched an investigation into 12 health insurers … over their sale of short-term [health insurance] plans.” 

These “investigations” are not fact-finding efforts; they are tools of intimidation. And their message is clear: Either get back on board with Obamacare or expect to spend a lot of time engaged in filling out useless paperwork—or worse. 

It’s not the first time. In August of 2009, when the Democratically controlled House was initially trying to pass Obamacare legislation, certain House committee chairs sent letters to numerous insurers demanding they answer a whole host of questions. 

One insurance company CEO told me at the time he had a dozen or so “red folders” on his desk containing House inquiries that he would have to devote significant time to addressing. 

The House committee chairmen didn’t really want any information from insurers; they wanted to let insurers know there was a new thug in town, and the companies had better get on board or expect to be harassed. 

That’s happening again. 

Some health insurers are now considering expanding their short-term, limited-duration insurance plans (STLDI) by offering better benefits than they typically have. 

The goal is to create some more attractive health insurance options that cost significantly less than Obamacare-qualified plans. 

STLDI plans are exempted from most Obamacare regulations and coverage mandates and so can offer much more affordable policies. 

Since only a small number of Americans—about 9 million at the beginning of 2019—actually receive Obamacare subsidies to defer the cost of coverage, and since almost no one can afford individual coverage now that Obamacare has made it “affordable,” insurers are trying to create an alternative. 

But rather than applaud the effort, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee called STLDI “junk,” even though what insurers are doing is perfectly legal and appropriate.  

Note that had Obamacare lived up to the false promises of increased access and affordability made by President Obama and nearly every Democrat, there would be little or no need to expand short-term policies.  

Now Democrats have to try to keep the passengers from trying to escape their sinking Obamacare ship, and one way to do it is to discourage any alternatives. Americans and insurers MUST be in Obamacare, and they better not complain.

But isn’t that always the story of the socialist paradise? Like the Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”