As the American Health Care Act(AHCA) makes its second attempt at Capitol Hill, left leaning politicians and celebrities alike are concerned about the lack of protections for people suffering from pre-existing conditions. Their main point being that it’s immoral to subject our most vulnerable citizens to paying more for insurance when their health is out of their control. While this claim holds some water, it’s definitely not cut out to what they claim it to be. Let’s set the record straight about pre-existing conditions and what it’ll take to fix the American healthcare system.
Pre-existing conditions, are they still protected?
Yes, pre-existing conditions will have slightly better protection under the ACA, but they’re not left out to dry by the AHCA. Most importantly the AHCA does not allow people with pre-existing conditions to be denied healthcare coverage by an insurance provider. They will still be able to choose any insurance provider they wish, just like under the ACA. While we don’t know exactly what will happen to premiums for people with pre-existing conditions due to variables in different states, the AHCA does lay out safety nets to help pool money and assist people unable to afford their premiums.
Companies are not government entities
In this discussion we also need to remember that insurance companies are private entities at the end of the day, not government programs. Their only obligation is to provide a profit for their shareholders and have no legal requirement to operate on the basis on morality. Walmart isn’t required to give reduced pricing on food to the hungry, Motel 6 doesn’t have to discount rooms to the homeless, and Aetna shouldn’t be forced to give reduced rates to the sick.
So what can we do?
I fully understand the argument presented by the left: we cannot leave people with pre-existing conditions to die. So how do we help them without hurting insurance companies? We start by lowering the cost of healthcare and prescriptions. Congress needs to authorize the importation of cheaper drugs from places like Canada and Europe. Subsequently they need to fight back in price discrimination. Americans should not be paying for Canada and the EU’s lower drug prices like they are currently. Similarly, bills that protect doctors from lawsuits need to be introduced in order to reduce the use of defensive medicine, an act that costs U.S. consumers up to $650 billion dollars a years. Lastly, insurance companies can help by excluding coverage at hospitals that overcharge for their services(See Humana temporarily stopping coverage of services by Florida Hospital). Combined, these actions could save trillions of dollars and drastically drive down healthcare costs.
Needless to say this effort won’t be easy. It’ll require a lot of strength from Congress and insurance companies alike as the pushback from pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers will be fierce.