After Years Of Uncertainty, A Health-Care Business Gets An Answer | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
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

Full Of Complexity And Ambivalence, 'American Sniper' Shows The Cost Of War

The film about a Navy SEAL whose service in Iraq made him a mythic figure has become a cultural lightning rod. But the squabbles are too simple for a low-key movie striking in its lack of stridency.
NPR

Why Dump Treated Wastewater When You Could Make Beer With It?

An Oregon company has developed a high-tech process for turning sewage into pure drinking water. Now it's asking the state for permission to give its recycled water to a group of home brewers.
NPR

White House Won't Seek To End 529 College Tax Break

All 50 states and the District of Columbia sponsor 529 plans. Critics had called the proposal to limit them a tax hike on the middle class.
NPR

Yahoo Plans To Spin Off Remaining Stake In Alibaba

Yahoo has announced it will spin off its 15 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. Shareholders had been waiting for that decision. The move needs regulatory approval.

Leave a Comment

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