Health Care

Commentary: Obama’s Pre-Existing Conditions Plan Looking Like An Early Failure

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One of the innumerable provisions from the labyrinthine passages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the creation of a federally-run “Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan.” This section provides coverage for those who haven’t had health insurance for at least six months and who have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition and will carry over until 2014, when insurance companies will be prohibited by law from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The most glaring problem with this federal program is that it is wholly redundant. Louisiana, like other states, offers its own plan to provide for residents in this situation. The Louisiana Health Plan enrolls roughly 1,700 people in two programs. According to Gil Dupre, CEO of the Louisiana Association of Health Plans, the Louisiana Health Plan has efficiently provided coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and that he has “always wondered who the people were who would take advantage of the federal program.”

                Although a reported 821,000 Louisiana residents have some sort of pre-existing conditions, a whopping 31 Louisiana residents have joined the federal plan since it was made available on July 1 until November 1, when the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services last collected statistics. Nationwide, this total “grows” to 8,011 enrollees. While the HHS gives its assurances that coverage under this plan more accurately reflects standard rates than does the typical state plan, the price tag for this federally administered program is $5 billion dollars- quite a sum, considering the relative few participating in it. A scathing op-ed in the Wall Street Journal from last week depicts just how much of a waste this investment has been. “Literally, one person has signed up out of 647,000 [North Dakota] state residents. Four people have enrolled in West Virginia. Things are better in Minnesota, where Mr. Obama has rescued 15 out of 5.2 million…” How do these inauspicious numbers compare to the HHS’s projections? “…It estimated it would be insuring 375,000 people by now, and as many as 400,000 more every year.” It seems fair to declare that the American taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth on this investment.

Likewise, these figures suggest two things: either the problem of pre-existing condition exclusions has been drastically misrepresented, or the vast majority of Americans with pre-existing conditions are satisfied with their private or state-administered coverage. As well, it absolutely emphasizes another thing: the Obama Administration has once again overestimated the American people’s dependence on the federal government. This essentially boils down to the ubiquitous federal overreach which has exploded under the Obama Administration. Rather than allow the states to continue to administer their own insurance policies, the federal government instead duplicated a state service at a massive cost, and has little to show for it now. The federal government exists to provide services and protections which the people and the states absolutely cannot produce and maintain themselves, not to officiously reach into every aspect of public and private life. If the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan is symptomatic of this dangerous and unwanted tendency, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the hideous personification of it.

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