Monday, July 12, 2010

Everybody outta the pool! [UPDATED]

FoIB Holly R sent along this story:

"Sheila Hokes thought she’d found a lifeline to keep her family from drowning in health insurance costs ... [Ohio] recently outlined its proposal for a federally backed pool for high-risk individuals with pre-existing conditions ... The pool to be run by Medical Mutual of Ohio is open only to those who have had no coverage for six months."

As Bob's pointed out, this is a "feature" of ObamaCare©, one of those things that we had to "pass it to know what's in it."

So what's the problem?

Well, it's not really with the new pool (although it may have its own issues), but with the story. As we saw with the nHealth kerfuffle, it pays not to believe everything one reads in the paper (or on the intertubes).

Let's start with this little doozy:

"The Delaware County resident understood when a surgery for her son’s lifelong digestive condition caused her premiums to shoot up by $700 a month."

Um, no, it didn't: by law, carriers can't single out individual insureds for rate increases, expensive surgeries notwithstanding. Perhaps Ms Hokes misunderstood how insurance works, and honestly believed that she (and/or her) son had been singled out for a rate hike. CORRECTION: After much searching, it appears that there is, in fact, no law against such practices. The relevant section of the Ohio Revised Code (3923) does not speak to this issue.

Unfortunately, that doesn't fly, either: Ms Hokes knew (or should have known) darn well what the relevant laws are, since She herself is an independent insurance agent and (as pointed out to us by FoIB Rick B), she's co-chair (or perhaps immediate past co-chair) of the Ohio Association of Health Underwriters' Political Action Committee, something Carrie Ghose should have pointed out. So Ms Hoke's no amateur.

And Rick noticed a few other "details" that call into question the veracity of this little drama. For example, the story says that Ms Hokes "canceled their policy with .... American Community Mutual Insurance Co."

But as we reported almost a month ago, United HealthCare's Golden Rule recently bought American Community book of business. This is not nit-picking: a professional (of all people!) should know that you don't cancel existing coverage until your new plan is in place. And since there was so much in flux during that time, why would you jeopardize coverage, especially with a dependent who may have insurability issues?

And that's another thing: if the Hokes' family premiums really had gone up that high that quickly, why wouldn't she simply have left her son on the existing plan and move the rest of the family to a new one (as she acknowledges she could have done)? As Rick points out, the son's "only medication is generic" and he apparently already underwent the corrective surgery (although we don't know this for sure due to the reporter's apparently sloppy fact-checking).

Regular readers know that we're hardly shills for ObamaCare©, but this reeks of opportunism. Once again, I call BS.
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