Filed Under:

After Years Of Uncertainty, A Health-Care Business Gets An Answer

Play associated audio

It's 9:45 a.m. Thursday at the headquarters of Health Plan One, a health insurance agency that sells private policies. It's the morning of what is the biggest court decision ever regarding health insurance. Will the court uphold the health-care bill? Will it strike it down?

"Either way is fine with me," says Bill Stapleton, the company's CEO.

Stapleton is a man who is worn out. He spent years watching Congress debate the health care overhaul, gaming out how his company could survive under this version or that version. And then the law was passed and then the constitutionality challenged.

"It's very difficult to plan because there's so much uncertainty out there," Stapleton says. "That doesn't sound like a big deal. It's a big deal. How do you make an investment today? Your investment doesn't pay off today. It pays off in three or four years."

It's 10 a.m. Someone gets the TV working, and there's Wolf Blitzer on CNN announcing that the court has struck down the insurance mandate. Then Stapleton walks over to one of his salesmen, who tells him Yahoo is saying the bill has been upheld.

This kind of confusion, Stapleton says, is actually typical of how the past few years have been.

Eventually, the news is clear: The law was upheld. And unless Stapleton's company dramatically changes what it does, it has just been written out of existence. And not by the controversial parts of the law, but by the parts of the law most everyone likes.

For instance: Insurance companies have to reduce administrative costs. Stapleton's agency collects fees from insurance companies. His business is an administrative cost.

And starting in 2014, the law says insurance companies will not be allowed to deny people for pre-existing conditions. And at some point, people won't need to go through an agency like Stapleton's at all; the law creates online exchanges to buy insurance.

Stapleton says he's thinking about getting into life insurance. Or maybe car insurance or home insurance — anything that moves him away from the individual health market.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Poetry Behind Bars: The Lines That Save Lives — Sometimes Literally

Words Unlocked, a poetry contest for juveniles in corrections, has drawn more than 1,000 entries. Its judge, Jimmy Santiago Baca, says it was a poetry book that helped him survive his own prison term.
NPR

When It Came To Food, Neanderthals Weren't Exactly Picky Eaters

During the Ice Age, it seems Neanderthals tended to chow down on whatever was most readily available. Early humans, on the other hand, maintained a consistent diet regardless of environmental changes.
NPR

Trump And Cruz Campaign At California GOP Convention

The remaining Republican presidential candidates have been making their case at the party's state convention. Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler explains the divisions on display among Republicans.
NPR

'The Guardian' Launches New Series Examining Online Abuse

A video was released this week where female sports journalists were read abusive online comments to their face. It's an issue that reaches far beyond that group, and The Guardian is taking it on in a series called "The Web We Want." NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with series editor Becky Gardiner and writer Nesrine Malik, who receives a lot of online abuse.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.