Monday, February 18, 2013

Obamacare Bridge Program for Pre-Existing Conditions goes Broke

Well, well isn't this a surprise: Insuring people that aren't insurable is an expensive, money losing proposition! Which is why, the Obamacare stop-gap program designed to cover the medical bills of 400,000 Americans with preexisting conditions is closing down because it ran out of money after covering only 135,000 of the 400,000:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Citing financial concerns, the Obama administration Friday began quietly winding down one of the earliest programs created by the President’s health care overhaul, a plan that helps people with medical problems who can’t get private insurance.
In an afternoon teleconference with state counterparts, administration officials said the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will stop taking new applications. People already in the plan will not lose coverage.

Designed as a stopgap solution until the law’s full consumer protections are in effect next year, PCIP is currently serving more than 100,000 people, a lifeline for patients with serious medical problems such as cancer and heart failure. However, Congress allocated a limited amount of money, and the administration’s technical experts want to make sure it doesn’t run out.
“We’re glad this program was here and able to help,” said Amie Goldman, who oversees the program in Wisconsin. “I’m certainly disappointed we won’t be able to serve everyone who has a need for this coverage.”
The plan covers people who have had problems getting private insurance because of a medical condition and have been uninsured for at least six months. Premiums are keyed to average rates charged in each state, which means they’re not necessarily cheap, often amounting to several hundred dollars a month for middle-aged individuals.

It's a sad fact of life that when you have existing medical problems, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to get health insurance coverage. However, the law as it existed BEFORE Obamacare was a better compromise that what we have now. Under current law, an insurance company can't refuse to cover you as long as you don't have a lapse in coverage. Which means if you have a preexisting condition, you have to do what you can to make sure your coverage doesn't lapse. Granted, sometimes this doesn't work, but covering people who have preexisting conditions is a difficult challenge as the Obamacare Wizards are finding out (and the 265,000 people with preexisting conditions who were promised coverage under Obamacare but aren't getting it are finding out as well). Of course, a substantial majority of those with preexisting conditions don't HAVE to live with them. Many preexisting conditions -- diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, etc. can be traced back to poor lifestyle choices: If you take care of yourself better, you most likely won't have to deal with some of these afflictions, which would come in handy for the healthy among us because we are going to need plenty more healthy people to help pay for Obamacare's ultimate solution for taking care of those with preexisting conditions:

Starting January 1, 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to turn anyone away because of poor health. At the same time, the federal government will begin subsidizing coverage for millions of individuals who have no access to employer plans. That means many of the people currently in the PCIP program may end up with lower premiums once the government’s financial help is factored in.

Let me break this down into the simplest terms for those of you who have proven that you are a little slow on the uptake -- by that I mean you Obama voters: Healthy and young Americans need to stay that way and earn lots of money in the meantime because your health insurance premiums are going to be jacked up to pay for the health care of the unhealthy -- that's the "insurance companies will no longer be able to turn anyone away because of poor health" part. And "the federal government will begin subsidizing" is the part where your taxes are going up to pay for the unhealthy as well. So in other words healthy tax payers, bend over twice.

There is no such thing as a free lunch as the Obamacare Wizards are finding out. Granting health insurance to every American with a preexisting condition is a wonderful altruistic aim. But the details are a bitch for the rest of us.

No comments: