Monday, September 10, 2012
Curing the Pre-Existing Conditions of Obamacare
Tom Miller and I have a column in AEI’s The American on why Obamacare is the wrong way to cover pre-existing conditions.
The starting point for addressing the problem of pre-existing conditions is a proper perspective on its size. The claim that tens of millions of Americans are at risk of losing coverage defies common sense. ObamaCare included $5 billion in new funding to subsidize insurance for the millions who were supposedly sick and without options. Far from the alleged 65 million people,only 77,877 had signed up for the subsidized Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan by June 30 of this year. The truth is that most Americans with health problems are protected by rules passed years ago by Congress and state legislatures that prohibit discrimination against them in job-based insurance. Not surprisingly, those employer plans pay for hundreds of billions of dollars of claims each year—from workers with “pre-existing” health conditions.
But don’t get us wrong. The problem of gaps in coverage for pre-existing conditions is real and needs to be addressed. It affects several million Americans, and that’s far too many.
The fundamental cause of gaps in coverage is a lack of portable health insurance, not the likelihood that almost everyone will eventually suffer from some spells of poor health. Health problems are an inevitable pre-existing condition of life, especially as we live longer. Lack of access to health insurance, however, is largely due to two particular public policies that unfairly penalize individuals and families seeking coverage on their own, rather than through their employer’s group coverage.
You can read the rest of the column here.