Republicans often face criticism opposing Obamacare but having no plan to replace it. So Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has been tweeting about his replacement proposal: Let every American participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program.“Federal employees have long enjoyed high-quality, affordable health care benefits through this free market, consumer based system,” says Issa.
I’m not exactly sure what Issa means when he calls FEHBP a “free market” system. The system does set up a marketplace where private health insurers offer plans that have to meet certain specifications, and then individuals choose the plans they like best. That’s also true of the Obamacare exchanges, which Republicans do not tend to think are very “free market.”
In fact, FEHBP is similar to the Obamacare exchanges in a lot of ways.
*]If insurers want to participate in the FEHBP, they can’t exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, just like Obamacare .
*]They have to accept applicants " without regard to age, race, sex, health status, or hazardous nature of employment." This is called guaranteed issue, and it’s just like Obamacare.
*]They have to charge all applicants the same premium for a given plan. This is called community rating, and it’s more restrictive of insurers than Obamacare , which allows for substantial premium variation based on age.
The key way that FEHBP differs from Obamacare now is that only federal employees can participate in it. Those federal workers have 75% of their plan premiums paid by the federal government, and their own 25% contribution is deductible on their federal tax return.
Nice going Issa.