Every now and then, a note or blog sparks a discussion that warrants its own entry. Case in point, Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ken Matesz brought up some important and valid counterpoints to my previous political blog.
Nearly a week since Republican Scott Brown won the special election in Massachusetts for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the late Ted Kennedy, health care reform arguments have been all over the map. The Libertarian Party is the only group that has not left its position on the topic blowing with the wind.
A stance of limited government interference is the best path, ultimately. Now it is a matter of getting our point across effectively and having a plan for heavily restrained reforms for what currently exists.
To my previous blog, Matesz said this:
Don't have time to read your whole post, but I read far enough to see that you said that it is a good idea to eliminate the possibility of insurance companies rejecting customers due to preexisting conditions. I'm sorry, my friend, but there is no hope for a viable insurance industry if every insurance company has to accept every customer regardless of their health.
Would you be able to survive as an insurer against floods if you were required to insure every house that is built on a floodplain?
Then, from the client's point of view, why should I bother to buy insurance until I have a condition? In other words, if insurance companies become required to accept customers with preexisting conditions, then I can stop paying for insurance right now, and just wait until I get sick.
Then, once I know what illness I have, I can go apply for insurance coverage and know that I will get it because Congress passed a law requiring the insurance company to cover me. What insurance company can survive with no customers until the customers are all sick?
Insurance is insurance precisely because it is a hedge against the risk of getting sick. It is no longer insurance when the company must take on all sick people. At that point, it is just welfare.
My reply is as follows:
What it boils down to is when people pay their premiums, they should be able to expect to receive the services for which they’ve paid. This is why we have consumer protection laws.
Also, I believe insurance companies should retain the right to require disclosure of one’s medical history before accepting someone as a customer and even decline them if they pose too great of a risk. But, that needs to take place *before they sign up and payments are being made.*
Additionally, when an insurer determines a customer has knowingly withheld important information about their personal health history they also retain the right to cancel the policy due to that individual’s breach of contract.
I understand your point that if legislation is poorly written regarding insuring those with preexisting conditions we’ll create an unfunded welfare mandate. What we need to bear in mind is the majority of these conditions require preventative and health-maintenance care to prevent more serious conditions from progressing.
All too often it is when a person’s health goes south because they cannot get access to care before that happens that they turn to the emergency room for their health care. This has been a major factor in driving up the overall costs of health care nationwide.
Granted, one thing that would help in this entire debate is if people would cease to be mentally and intellectually lazy and start reading the fine print on their policies (in essence, the Libertarian stance on individual responsibility).
We are fortunate that the majority of Americans do not want a government takeover of health care. But the argument that all medical conditions render people uninsurable who do not already have health insurance runs the risk of swinging public sentiment in a direction that will embolden and play into the hands of the progressive movement.
All in all, there is a great deal of deregulation that needs to take place with health care which will help alleviate the cost burden on the public.
I agree with reforming the manner in which states have established minimum coverage requirements for insurers. The inability for people to take their health policy with them when they move from one state to another is a direct infringement upon the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause (Article 1, Section 8, paragraph 3).
Another idea I wholeheartedly endorse is being proposed by Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky. His idea is to extend significant tax breaks and relief to physicians who practice medicine at community clinics as a way to help alleviate the expenses of preventative and maintenance care.
Finally, the best way to enable Americans to afford health care insurance is to drastically slash federal and state government spending, thus allowing taxpayers to keep more of their earnings and as a result better afford not just insurance but also any other costs that come with returning to or maintaining good health.
That last point is why I’m a Libertarian.