Between John McCain's magic plan to win the Iraq War by staying the course and his magic health care plan, you'd think that having been a POW not only insulated him against all criticism for anything, it also gave him the ability to just say something and make it so.
Here in New Jersey, we used to have a high-risk pool for insuring drivers. It was called the Joint Underwriting Association, and it was funded partially by premiums paid to private insurers, and partially by a surcharge paid by ALL drivers. The New York Times editorialized about this system in 1988
and a full history is here
The main problem with the JUA was that insurers were allowed to dump pretty much any driver they wanted into the high-risk pool. Mr. Brilliant and I were dumped into this pool for a while, despite having clean driving records, solely by virtue of being apartment renters instead of homeowners. Our insurance guy told us that the actuaries believed renters to be "less responsible" (a laughable notion today, given the real estate/mortgage frenzy of the last couple of years and resulting crash) so all non-homeowners were dumped into the pool.
For all that former governor Jim McGreevey is now a well-deserved national laughingstock, and for all that he was for the most part a terrible governor, he deserves credit for once and for all setting the state's auto insurance system back into something vaguely resembling viablility.John McCain's health care plan involves creating a similar high-risk pool
, the effect of which will be to allow insurers to continue to cherry-pick whom they cover and limit coverage to only those least likely to use significant services. In fact, the very existence of such a high-risk pool for those rejected by insurance companies (who will continue to be able to expand their massive lists of reasons to deny access to their plans), as we saw with auto insurance here in New Jersey, virtually assures that the insurers will do just that. Why should a for-profit insurance company take on the risk of people over the age of 50, or people with a BMI over 25, or people who are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol, or people who don't belong to a gym, or people with blue eyes, or any arbitrary exclusionary factor the suits that run it deem relevant, when it's just as easy to deny coverage and funnel those people into the high risk pool?
The purpose of group insurance and of mandates that insurers take on all comers combined with universal coverage mandates is to spread the risk around. Our experience with the JUA in New Jersey has shown us here that when you allow insurers to refuse to do this by creating a pool of so-called high-risk people, you ensure that ALL people are deemed for some reason to be high risk -- which differs little from where insurers are trying to go now -- insuring ever-fewer numbers of people.
Labels: health care, insurance industry, John McCain