Lots of choices of health insurance policies, along with plenty of competition to hold prices down and quality up, would be part of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama and his supporters have assured Americans.
Not for many West Virginians, it appears.
Obamacare, as the ACA has come to be known, is so incredibly complex that with most of its provisions set to go into effect within weeks, many people still can't get answers about how the law will affect them.
But one provision, expected by Obama and his cronies to be a real vote-getter, involves the many Americans who don't have health insurance through the government or their employers, and can't afford it on their own. So-called insurance "exchanges" or "marketplaces" are to be set up in the states to offer such clients coverage at affordable, often government-subsidized, rates.
West Virginia has been in the process of setting up its insurance marketplace for several months. But this week, it was revealed just one insurance company plans to participate.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia will be the only insurer offering policies through the government marketplace, unless something changes. This week, it was announced another major insurer doing business in the state, Carelink/Coventry Health Care, will not be participating in the program.
Highmark reportedly plans to offer 11 different health insurance plans, but there will be limits. For example, the company may not be providing "platinum" plans with low co-payments and thus, high premiums, through the marketplace.
No doubt Highmark will do its best to offer quality insurance at reasonable rates. But as wise shoppers understand, nothing accomplishes that like competition.
Monopolies - and that is what Highmark will have, in effect, unless something changes - by their very nature do not provide the best prices and service for customers.
Many West Virginians stopped believing Obama's promises - except the one on wrecking the coal industry - years ago. Still, that will be small comfort to the tens of thousands of Mountain State residents who may be affected adversely by the fact the insurance marketplace will not operate as claimed.