Steve Drake over at NDY has an angry post up, embedding the YouTube clip above of Mike Huckabee criticizing the Obamacare requirement that insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions. Drake is unhappy because Huckabee analogized that provision to allowing a homeowner to buy property insurance after a fire has destroyed his house.
It is true that doing so wrecks underwriting and can’t help but raise overall insurance costs for everyone if nothing else is done—or allow the insurance industry to be driven out of business, which many Obamacare supporters desire. But it seems to me that those two extremes aren’t the only choices. In fact, I have supported a part of Obamacare currently in effect—alas temporarily—that creates a kind of subsidized assigned risk pool for those who are otherwise uninsurable, similar to those we see in auto insurance that helps otherwise difficult to insure people obtain coverage.
Still, unless there is more to what Huckabee said in this clip—and it could very well have been taken out of context since the clip is not even 1:30 minutes—I can understand why Drake is so angry. From his blog:
To summarize - Huckabee blasts the idea of requiring insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions. He compares those individuals - which includes me and just about everyone I know and care about - to both a burnt-down house and a wrecked car. And, of course, it would be ridiculous to expect an insurance company to insure a house that burned down yesterday. This can be interpreted in no other way but as a blatantly utilitarian appeal to Tea Party folks who combine the scary traits of wanting as little government as possible, want to pay as little tax as possible, and resent “paying” for people on “entitlements.” I guess they should amend that “Champion Life” to read “Champion the lives of young, healthy, nondisabled people.”
Actually, I think there are other ways to interpret it, such as that when Huckabee used the burned house as a metaphor, he merely intended to illustrate the realities of insurance finance, not invidiously denigrate people with disabilities as having no further use. That said, however, I think opponents of Obamacare have to be very careful that they not be seen as throwing out the baby—needed areas of reform such as obtaining coverage for those with pre-existing conditions—with the bathwater—a lousy law overall—and I hope everyone understands that by using that cliche, I was not infantalizing people with serious illnesses or disabilities.
(Even without Obamacare, we already to help some such people. For example, Medicare covers those who become totally disabled—which means generally that they cannot work—after two years of such disability. Medicaid also takes all comers, but of course, one must be impoverished to qualify. Both systems are badly strained financially, in part, as a consequence. But we do need a safety net for people who are sick.)
P.S. I tried to find a longer clip of what Huckabee said to see context and whether he also addressed what to do to help people with pre-existing conditions. I couldn’t. If any SHSers are better at surfing than me (which wouldn’t be hard), or find out what he has proposed in this regard, please let me know. Thanks.
Update: SHSers rock! Several have sent me the link to the entire speech (Gracias!), with the germane section beginning at 33.20. It is clear he is talking about affordability and not denigrating people who are expensive for whom to care. He worries that it will lead to only the government being able to afford to pay for health care. In fact, in the next section, he speaks about the equal value of each and every one of us, regardless of whether we are disabled, ill, or MENSA, etc. or a football player of the year. “There is no difference in the value of any individual.”