May 2, 2017

Quick Takes (v17): Preexisting Conditions

Quick Takes
Turning to health insurance, now that the basking in the first 100 days is over, the president has given us assurances that everything will be OK under his plan for anyone with a preexisting condition.

In fact he assured us on Sunday in an interview on what he calls DeFace The Nation that he would "beautifully" take care of these folks and that
Preexisting conditions are in the bill -- and I mandate it... Preexisting is going to be in there and we're also going to create pools and pools are going to take care of the preexisting.
In another interview, with Bloomberg News on Monday, he promised us again that everything was going to be OK.
I want it to be good for sick people. It's not in its final form right now. It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare. 
Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks and other House Freedom Caucus members got an amendment into the latest version of TrumpCare that would allow states to allow insurance carriers to charge significantly more for people who have preexisting conditions, force them into high risk pools, or likely in many cases, force them to go without coverage because they can't afford it.

The goal? Cheaper rates for everyone!

Well, cheaper rates for those of us who live the good life, anyway. According to Brooks, when asked about coverage for preexisting conditions by CNN's Jake Tapper,
My understanding is that it will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool. That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they're healthy, they've done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now those are the people -- who've done things the right way -- that are seeing their costs skyrocketing. (Emphasis added, obviously.)
What's that?

You mean people who lead good lives simply don't end up with asthma or cancer or epilepsy or rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes or heart disease or Crohn's disease or allergies? Or any of the other things that can fall under the preexisting definition, often described as any medical condition for which a person did or should have sought medical treatment?

Using that definition, it doesn't take a healthy rocket scientist (or even an unhealthy one) to figure out that a person could be the best gosh darn 'goodest living person' in the whole state of Alabama and still fall into the bucket of skyrocketing premiums, subsidized high risk pools, or having to choose between, say, food or insurance.

Now, I get that people believe they are paying too much for health insurance. People who have insurance through their employer feel this way, as do people who have coverage under a state exchange like the one here in New York, as do people who get their health insurance under federally-facilitated marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. In many cases they really are; in many others, though, they just think they are, because they've been convinced that's true.

Which, I guess, proves that in America we actually can say "universal" and "health care" in the same sentence, just not the way many people wish.

I get that some preexisting conditions can be extremely costly - some are, but not all of them. But the answer to solving the insurance costs of treating them is not to make people have to enter heavily subsidized high risk pools, or charge them three, five, ten times the premium or mow, the sky could be the limit - with no guaranteed reduction in costs for everyone else who doesn't have such a condition.

And shifting the cost of covering preexisting conditions from people's premiums to people's tax dollars? That does not reduce the overall cost of health insurance. All it does is hide part of the cost behind door number one, or curtain number two. It might make people feel better -- but so does taking a placebo, right?

It may be unfair of me to single out Mo Brooks - after all, he's but one of many politicians who have tossed a bunch of crazy pasta at the ceiling to see if it would stick (see Trump's comments at the top of the post, for example).

But it does seem as if he may have, through bad living or something, acquired a preexisting condition of his own - the thought that the rest of us are preexistingly stupid.