Goodlatte: We Need Commonsense Health Care Reforms

There is a guest post on the Bearing Drift blog by Rep Bob Goodlatte (R-VA06) about his ideas on how to improve our health care system.

While Bob includes a few ideas on how to improve health care for American citizens which are worthy of consideration, I wish to point to the absence of ideas on how to solve one very large and difficult problem.

What about the problem with lack of coverage for pre-existing conditions?

I wish to give an example of how this is a problem. I heard about this example on NPR (National Public Radio). I tried to find a link to the program where I heard this, but could not locate it. A gentleman was laid off from his job and had exhausted his continuing cobra health care coverage. He obtained health care coverage through a private insurance company for a few months at a time, and at the end of each covered period he would obtain a few more months of coverage through the same insurance company. The reason he only obtained short term coverage was because he was continuing to search for employment, and he had hopes of obtaining cheaper coverage through a new employer.

During one of the periods he was covered through this private insurer, he was diagnosed with having a serious medical problem that would require expensive treatment. However the insurance company denied coverage because they determined the problem was pre-existing. They went back in their files and discovered that this gentleman had had a medical test done while covered by them under a previous policy. While his medical care providers did not catch it, that results of that medical test indicated he already had the problem at the point the test was taken.

Why should this be a problem? Because after the test was performed the policy he had then expired and he obtained coverage under a new policy. Since the problem existed prior to his obtaining the new policy, the problem was pre-existing and not covered under his new policy.

Now the gentleman is facing the choice of either living with the problem or financial ruin paying for treatment.

I believe I could give other examples of how the difficulty in getting coverage for pre-existing conditions is indeed a problem for many American citizens. I would imagine that most Americans know a friend or relative who faces such a problem because it is so pervasive in our nation's health care system.

Problem is that you just can not mandate that all insurers must provide coverage of pre-existing conditions at the same price level as others without them unless you require every member of society to obtain coverage. If individuals are still allowed to decline medical coverage, the young and healthy will often still decide to stick with pay-as-you-go health care and only opt for medical coverage after they have been diagnosed with something that is going to require expensive treatment. Costs for medical care insurance will go up for everyone covered.

Unless the burden of providing for the treatment of serious medical problems in our society is spread out amongst all the members of our society, including the young and the healthy, then the costs of providing coverage to those seeking it is going to go up. We will not have solved part of the problem for why our current way of doing things no longer works.

There might indeed be problems with the health care proposals winding their way through Congress which are largely being supported by Democrats. However at least the Democratic proposal seems to attempt to address how solve the pre-existing condition problem. I have yet to hear a serious proposal from Republicans on how to address this very real and very difficult problem.


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