Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Unnecessary Alarm

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Unnecessary Alarm

Recent rhetoric and editorials dealing with health care policy in the United States lead to confusion and unnecessary alarm by bringing together two topics: health insurance coverage; and pre-existing conditions. Health insurance does two things: reduces cost for the policy holder by means of the discounts insurance companies achieve through volume buying; and, (like insurance in general) assists the policyholder deal with the financial consequences of something very bad which might, or might not, happen. A pre-existing condition, however, is something bad that has already happened.

For pre-existing conditions the health care policy question should be, how to pay for treatment rather than how to coerce insurance companies to pay. Health insurance policies covering pre-existing conditions (e.g. diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure) are widely available. Paying for pre-existing catastrophic conditions (e.g. organ transplant; cancer; multiple sclerosis) is another matter. Forcing insurance companies to take on the cost of treatment for all afflictions, regardless of scope, and spreading these costs through the premiums paid by healthier people, plus tucking in a few government subsidies, is one way (as in Obamacare). There are other ways to pay for treating these catastrophic conditions. The recent healthcare bill passed by the House of Representatives offers an alternative way.

Most people in the United States do not suffer from catastrophic health conditions. Those of us whom God made more fortunate in our health have a responsibility to help those less fortunate. I hope your newspaper will avoid partisan rhetoric and instead foster informed discussion leading to a national policy on how to help the minority who can not pay for the treatment of a catastrophic health condition.

Allan Ruppar