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The Private Sector Already Provides Health-Care ‘Exchanges’
There is no need for Obamacare to recreate something that is thriving in today's free market.


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Deroy Murdock

Pres. Barack Obama is twelve years late and $7 billion over budget when it comes to health-care “exchanges.” This keystone of Obamacare already exists in the private sector. There is no need for taxpayers to recreate something that is thriving in today’s free market.

Nonetheless, come 2014, Obamacare requires the creation of 50 American Health Benefit Exchanges, one per state. “The Exchanges will be government entities, with a role in setting minimum benefit standards,” Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster explained in an April 22 memo. Some 15.9 million Americans are projected to use the Exchanges to select federally approved individual medical coverage. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2019, these exchanges will have cost taxpayers $2 billion to establish, plus $5 billion in “Other Related Spending.”

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This is a massive waste of time and money. Private enterprise already offers this service at no taxpayer cost.

The simple Internet address eHealth.com, for instance, will link any American to an incredibly useful website. This private company claims that its customers actually have secured coverage in just eleven minutes.

This website asks just five questions: zip code, gender, birth date, and whether one uses tobacco or is in college. If applicable, one may add the same information about a spouse and up to five children.

eHealth.com searches its database of 10,000 plans among 180 health insurers and lists those that operate within a designated zip code. These can be ranked by price, popularity, deductible, ratings, or just alphabetically.

Better yet, one can apply for coverage online or ask insurance-company representatives to call for further discussion.

What about people without Internet access? eHealth.com has about 50 licensed insurance agents to answer questions telephonically, 24/7, toll free. This company has insured 2 million people since 1998.

Another advantage of eHealth.com is that it is publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange (symbol: EHTH). As such, its finances and operations are scrutinized by individual investors, institutional analysts, and journalists. In contrast, government agencies too often are black holes. Got a question? File a Freedom of Information lawsuit.

Unlike the exchanges, which would be state-level monopolies, eHealth.com also must contend with rivals, such as InsureMe.com and NetQuote.com. Competition pushes these companies to improve services and prices.



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