Ending medical underwriting: The popular part of Obamacare

Polls showing that few people understand the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)–things like health insurance exchanges, minimum medical loss ratios, and the like– don’t surprise me. It’s pretty wonky stuff and frankly it’s not critical to most people.

But I’m a little more surprised and concerned that people are unaware that Obamacare addresses head-on an issue that lots of people care about: the ability for people with pre-existing conditions to get coverage at reasonable rates, and to avoid losing their health insurance or seeing rates jump when they get sick.

This is a topic people care about. About half of non-elderly people surveyed by Kaiser Family Foundation indicated that either they or a family member had a pre-existing condition. One-quarter said they or someone in their household had their premium raised or coverage denied as a result. One-third are worried about having to stay in a job they don’t like or putting off retirement due to this issue.

The relatively unpopular mandate to buy insurance coverage under Obamacare must be looked at in the context of the popular mandate to offer coverage at regular prices without regard to pre-existing conditions. Getting rid of medical underwriting only works if everyone is in the insurance pool. If only the sick are covered then affordability goes away.

As the benefits of the Affordable Care Act are publicized, I’d suggest reinforcing the value of not worrying about pre-existing conditions and link it to the mandate.


By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.

June 20, 2013

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