Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Health Insurance Co's Taking Toys and Going Home on Sept 23rd

Remember that kid back in the day who had all the cool toys but who threw a temper tantrum on the drop of a dime anytime he/she didn't get his/her way? 'Member? You 'member.  You and the other neighborhood kids would be sitting there in the sandbox, orchestrating your own Lord of the Rings-type battle scene using GI Joes, Transformers and Go-Bots and, without any warning, old sour-puss would feel disrespected because [insert just about any reason here], pick up his/her toys and pout all the way home.   Did you ever wonder what happened to that kid?  Well wonder no more - he/she grew up and became the CEO of a Health Insurance Company.

On March 23rd, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka health care reform or "Obama Care") into law.  You might recall it dominated our main stream media cycle FOR....EV....VER!   Although the bulk of the components of the health care reform act don't kick in until January 1, 2014 (I know right?), a substantial portion of it kicks in this Thursday, September 23rd.  Among the September 23rd provisions are three items that will actually change the day to day lives of millions of Americans:
  • Children will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans up to age 26
  • Insurance companies can no longer drop people from coverage when they become sick
  • Insurance companies can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions
That last provision has the CEO's of a few Insurance Companies picking up their proverbial toys and leaving the sandbox.  From ProPublica.Org:

Apparently, that wasn’t enough for the insurance companies. WellPoint’s Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, CoventryOne, Humana, and UnitedHealth Group’s UnitedHealthCare have all said they will stop writing new child-only policies in one or more states, according to reports from Dow Jones Newswires and The Hill. The affected states include Colorado, California, Ohio, and Missouri.
So rather than comply with the new rule that they can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions, these insurance companies have instead said "screw you guys....I'm going home!"  You can almost hear the temper tantrum that took place behind those board room doors:  "No big-government socialist is gonna make us cover kids with pre-existing conditions if we don't feel like it, by God!  Unfettered Market For Life, Baby!!!

To think there was a time when people actually debated the public option.

  • Are the Companies right or wrong here to protest this government regulation?
  • Besides a pure interest in making a profit, is there any valid reason for Insurance Companies to refuse to cover any more kids with pre-existing conditions?
  • And for extra credit, if this is the response from the Health Insurance Companies now, what happens on January 1, 2014 when these same rules will apply not just to kids but to ALL of us?
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