Friday, August 03, 2007

Covering the Super-Healthy Only

If Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney or Chief Justice John Roberts applied for private health insurance, they wouldn’t get it.

Neither would Michael Moore for his obesity or Arnold Schwarzenegger, who went to the hospital in 2005 for rapid heartbeats.

An organization called the Medical Information Bureau would take a quick look at their histories and tell 470 companies they are hopelessly bad risks. Their work helps health insurers cherry-pick prospects to cover only those who are unlikely to get sick.

So much for universal coverage and the faith that Republicans, including President Bush, have in the marketplace. After the removal of his five polyps last month, he would have trouble getting health insurance himself.

CBS reported recently that a survey by the Commonwealth Fund last year found that 89 percent, or 52 million, of those looking for individual health insurance didn't get it because it was too expensive or they were turned down.

“Insurers are getting double the profit that they make in the group market. Why is it so lucrative? Because they exclude anybody and everybody who has even a remote sense of risk associated with their health care," said Dr. Bryan Liang, who has studied the insurance industry for more than a decade.

Someone should break the news to Rudy Giuliani, who loves the current system. His 2001 treatment for prostate cancer would rule him out for coverage in a New York minute.

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