Monday, September 20, 2010

Huckacare's Government Option?

Mike Huckabee recently was asked about his opinion regarding preexisting conditions and I think that his answer deserves to be analyzed.

Contrary to published reports I believe that there is a way to cover people with pre-existing conditions. I have said that from a practical standpoint, it doesn't make sense to demand that every private health insurer be required to cover all people with pre-existing conditions. Forcing companies to take on uninsurable patients is no different than what we did in forcing banks to give mortgages to people who they knew couldn't pay them back, and look where that got us. However, what does make sense is to separate the uninsured from the uninsurable. There are people who are uninsurable through no fault of their own.

In fact, I am very familiar with the challenges of getting insurance in the face of pre-existing conditions since my own wife had cancer when we were 20 years old and just married - she was uninsurable for the next 10 years.

I truly believe those people should be covered and can be covered by individual states creating pools that provide coverage for people in high-risk categories.

What exactly does he mean by “states creating pools that provide coverage for people in high-risk categories?” Is this sort of like a Medicaid or Medicare program except for people who are uninsurable? It sounds to me (unless I am misunderstanding his comments) that Mike would favor a government-run program to cover people who are “uninsurable.” Or is he arguing that those with extreme preexisting conditions should be eligible for subsidized insurance? Probably not since this would either be unaffordable for the state government or (if not completely subsidized) unaffordable for the insurance companies.

This is the problem that some Republicans like Huckabee must grapple with. They sympathize with those who have preexisting conditions, but they don’t want the government to require insurance companies to cover them. Because if the government does require insurance companies to cover customers with preexisting conditions, then logically the government must require that all citizens be insured or else the insurance companies will go out of business. If only those with preexisting conditions get insured, then health care costs will rise dramatically.

Under Romneycare, there is no government run health industry. There are regulations and mandates, but the government does not operate or set prices for a single health insurance company. Huckabee would like to create a state bureaucracy that would either run health care for the “uninsurable” or subsidize (unlikely) health insurance for them. He advocates these policies because he sympathizes with the uninsurable but doesn’t want to acknowledge the reason behind mandates.

Nevertheless, I think that there are two lessons that conservatives can learn from Huck’s comments.

First, I think that Huck is right about the real threat to the United States. The debate about health care has largely missed the real problem. That is, America has a health problem more than a health care problem. Americans need to do a better job of eating healthier and exercising more in order to prevent chronic illness.

Second, while health problems are the bigger threat, conservatives need to come up with solutions to problems if they want to gain/stay in power. That means that conservatives need to think about the problem of preexisting problems. It is not fair that somebody who has had health problems in the past, should be forced to run the risk of complete bankruptcy if those problems should return. If conservatives want to govern, then we had better show how.

By the way, if any Huckabee supporter would like to educate me regarding what Huck means here, then be my guest. I very well could be misinterpreting his statements.


Argo Journal said...

Thanks for your contribution, Paul. It's very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

good article Pablo. I don't mind some government option for the uninsurable as long as they don't try to cover everyone.