Bizarro World is a fictional planet introduced by DC Comics where things are the opposite of what you expect, where Superman isn't super. That's an apt description for the health care system in the United States, which is likely the only place on Earth where this story in the Wall Street Journal would not be shocking:
A Better LA, a decade-old Los Angeles nonprofit, said last week it was signing up 50 low-income people for health plans in California's health-insurance marketplace. The charity, which said it has the blessing of the state agency overseeing the marketplace, will pay $50 to $100 a month to cover the share of the people's premiums not already financed by federal subsidies.
Those 50 people are at the vanguard of a push that could shift the balance between hospitals and insurers across the nation. Nonprofits, including some hospitals, say paying premiums would ensure coverage for people currently uninsured who can't afford even a small monthly payment for health insurance.
But insurers say they can't make a profit unless the health-insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act draw a balanced mix of healthy and sicker customers. The law's rocky start, many insurers fear, has already skewed the mix toward people in worse health. Help from nonprofits or hospitals could speed the arrival of less healthy customers into the exchanges, outpacing the arrival of younger, healthier people who might not cross paths with hospitals…
But such plans have drawn criticism. "It is a conflict of interest for hospitals and drug companies to pay patients' premiums and cost-sharing for the sole purpose of increasing utilization of their services and products," said Karen Ignagni, head of America's Health Insurance Plans, the health-insurance industry's trade group.