I trust the people who run the nation’s health insurers are paying proper attention to JPMorgan Chase’s $13 billion mortgage settlement. I won’t bore you with the details of the sins that Morgan is now atoning for, but just remind you of one fact about them: the vast majority of those transgressions were committed by Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, two failing institutions Morgan acquired in 2008 at the government’s request. Yes, yes, I know, both deals were coups for Morgan. The bank did just fine. Still, at the time of the Bear Stearns deal, the S.E.C. provided an informal assurance it wouldn’t hold Morgan accountable for any lending abuses it later might uncover. As for WaMu, Morgan thought its contract with the FDIC precluded any retroactive litigation.
How’d all that work out? I’ll even stipulate that, regardless what other agencies might have promised, the Justice Department did the right thing in going after JPMorgan Chase. A grievous wrong has been righted, and presumably future bad behavior has been deterred. Score one for the good guys.
Still, if you’re a health insurer contemplating issuing non-ACA-compliant health policies now, what’s going through your mind? The Department of Health and Human Services isn’t rewriting the rules as to what constitutes a grandfathered policy, remember. Rather, the Obama administration is merely promising that it won’t go after you later for writing health care policies that are manifestly illegal. Not so long ago, these same plans weren’t merely being characterized by the White House as non-compliant, but instead as substandard “junk” coverage.
One wonders how they’ll be judged a year from now. Judging by what JPMorgan Chase has just gone through, one can’t be too sure.
What do you think? Let me know!