Comparing Health Care

An illustration of how Health Care Reform will manage high-risk individuals who were denied coverage. The federal government has stepped in to increase the amount of funding for high-risk pools, but the type of coverage will vary by state. The great news is that, come 2014, no one will be denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition.   The less-than-good-news, for people shopping for their own insurance who have diabetes, asthma, or even a pregnancy, is that 2014 is still more than three years away.

Under existing law in many states, insurance companies can turn down individuals for a wide variety of preexisting medical conditions.   Some will offer coverage with a preexisting condition exclusion or a waiting period; they won’t cover a medical expense associated with that condition for an extended period of time.

Why Insurance Companies Deny Coverage for Preexisting Conditions

Insurance companies have a very smart reason to take a hard look at preexisting conditions.   In a totally free market, people would have an incentive to buy insurance when they get sick to cover their bills, but not purchase it when they are healthy.  This works fine for the individual, but not for others covered by the same insurance, because the very concept of insurance relies on the company being able to spread risk among healthy (ier) and unhealthy patients.

Health Reform Offers Insurance for All – Regardless of Condition

In 2014, when the new health reform law goes into effect, denial of coverage will no longer be an issue, because the law requires everyone to have insurance.  “Everyone into the pool!”, including the young and healthy helps spread the risk, so that insurers can cover the 67-year-old diabetic without him bankrupting the system.

So what can individuals do from now until 2014 if they have a pre-existing condition and cannot get individual coverage?   Under health reform, many states have already begun to create or expand their ”high risk” pools – an option for people denied coverage.   In other parts of the country, individuals can enroll directly into the government’s new Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan, or they can request a quote for coverage here.

In many cases, coverage for those who are usually denied coverage is not cheap — not even close.  But it is coverage and a bridge to get us to 2014 when there will no longer be “pre-existing” conditions and insurance rates won’t vary based upon one’s health status.