Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions and the Constitution

There are a lot of people out there who think that insurance companies need to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. The thinking, if you can call it that, goes that if a person has insurance through his employer, gets sick and then loses his job, he also loses his insurance. Any new policy won’t take on his costs for his existing illness. Both Republicans and Democrats seem to agree that somewhere in the Constitution there is a “pre-existing conditions cannot be denied by private health insurance companies clause.” I have a copy of the Constitution and lately I have been dragging it out and pouring over it looking for all these new powers that the government has decided they have. I am still looking for the automobile bailout clause, the banker bonus control clause and the compensation czar clause.

Let’s say I was looking to start up an insurance business. I go out and raise the capital I need, hire some employees, rent some office space, buy some computers--then the government tells me I have to offer policies to people with pre-existing conditions. How do I stay in business? For the people who show up with diabetes, what are they buying and what am I selling and who makes a profit? Now I am going to assume that here in the United States I will still be allowed to make a profit in the coming years. Profits allow me to improve my business, hire more people and send my kids to college. I know that many on the political left think profits should be secondary to helping the community but reality says that making a profit is what keeps me in business and keeps the motor of the country running.

So is my new insurance company a business or a charity? It pays taxes like a business but signing someone up simply so that I can pay their medical bills is more like a charity isn’t it? This is the magic question that I am really looking to have answered. If I have to take on the medical payments for pre-existing conditions why would anyone pay me for a policy prior to getting sick? What is my motivation for simply raising capital to pay people’s medical expenses? If I go broke because I can’t be selective about who I insure, what happens to my employees and who pays the medical bills when you do get sick?

A more fundamental question is do I have the right to start a health insurance business in the United States of America and expect success? Is there a free market for health insurance? If so, how does it work if the government demands that I simply take on the payment of some portion of the population’s bills? In order for this to work and to support the insurance industry as it exists, the government will be required to force everyone to purchase insurance at a cost that covers everyone’s pre-existing conditions. Who will decide which insurance company will get the premiums? How will the balance of charity cases be divided among the existing companies and will new ones be allowed? If someone can’t pay the premium will they be jailed? Where, exactly, is this new right located in the Constitution?

Are we going to ditch the idea that this is a nation of laws or are we going to pretend that the supreme law of the land takes a backseat to what a particular political point of view wants the nation to be? The remarkable thing about the United States is that no matter what political party is in power, each is limited by the same set of rules laid down in the founding document. One cannot hold an election to negate the rule of law. That axiom seems to be lost on the current administration. They seem to think that if they can pass a law, the constitutionality of that law is moot.

I am not beholden to the government of the United States. We are not ruled by our government. The government exists solely to serve the people and protect the Constitution. It is the duty of all Americans to remove any government that ignores the rule of law and violates the Constitution. If we destroy the insurance industry, then the people in power will seize that service as an entitlement. It will destroy the healthcare delivery system of this country and depress our economy further. If you want to improve the health care delivery system then get government out of it. There is no “right” to healthcare as there is no right to any service or product someone else must provide.

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