Our post on the state of California’s high-risk pool, MRMIP, has gotten web attention by the new Health Wonk Review, hosted at the Healthcare Economist this week, and by multimedia globetrotting journalist Sarah Arnquist at The Health Care Blog, on a post about people so desperate for coverage–and yet denied in in the individual market–that they’ll marry in order to get good group coverage.
Again, the focus here is the key. Consumer advocates are actively working to improve the sorry state of the individual market–Health Access has a bill, SB1522(Steinberg), to better standardize the market, so that people have a better sense of what they are getting. AB1945 (De La Torre) has provisions to place oversight over any rescissions, and in fact to standardize the underwriting procedures of insurers, such as the dreaded questionnaire. And then there’s AB2 (Dymally) to improve the high-risk pool for those who are denied because of pre-existing conditions.
While all these reforms are needed in the individual market, a preferred solution is to avoid these problems altogether by having people come together in groups (whether through employers, public programs, or large purchasing pools) to get coverage. In contrast to the Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Hacker, Kuehl, and Nunez/Schwarzenegger plans, the McCain plan actively works to shift people from group coverage into the individual market, and that’s the fatal flaw. McCain may offer some support of state “high-risk” pools as a way to “solve” the problem–a worthy effort by itself–but the very nature of his proposal makes the problem that needs to be solve–people facing denials for “pre-existing conditions”–much worse, and his solution doesn’t begin to undo the damage.