A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Elizabeth Edwards' Three Questions for McCain

Elizabeth Edwards' Three Questions for McCain

April 4, 2008

Kudos to Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards, for taking on presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain on the stark insufficiency of his health care proposal. Noting that neither she nor McCain, as cancer victims, would be eligible for private coverage under insurance rules which permit "medical underwriting," she goes on to ask McCain three questions:

"1. Under your plan, Senator McCain, would any health insurer be required to sell you or me (or those like us with pre-existing conditions) a health insurance policy?

"2. You say your plan is going to increase competition to the point that it actually lowers costs. Isn’t there competition today among insurance companies? Haven’t costs continued to go up despite that competition?

"3. You say that under your plan everyone is going to pay less for health insurance. Nice words, I admit, but they are words we have heard before. You must know when American families calculate the actual cost of health care, they have to include those deductibles and co-pays and not just the cost of the insurance. Are you talking about cheaper overall or just a cheap policy that doesn’t kick in until after thousands of dollars of deductibles have been paid?..."

See Paul Krugman's excellent take on this controversy in today's NYTimes.

Worth noting, because lots of folks don't realize it, the insidious rules that permit insurers to rate people based on their health status are illegal in Massachusetts. Made illegal in the small employer market in 1991 and in the individual market in 1996. MA is one of about ten that bans medical underwriting in both markets, and we're the only state that now has both markets merged into one.