Whatever people might think about the specific decision by state officials to remove birth as a qualifying event for health insurance, it should serve as a reminder that our medical system remains relentlessly ruthless.
Gov. Mary Fallin, according to a media report, recently signed the rule as requested by the office of State Insurance Commissioner John Doak. Fallin’s office said the reason was to entice health insurance companies who offer policies for children to come back to do business in Oklahoma. The companies stopped offering child policies in Oklahoma because of the “president’s health plan,” according to Fallin’s office.
Fallin spokesperson Alex Wentz was quoted this way about the issue: “We think it will get more kids covered. It’s not perfect, but honestly, we view it as cleaning up a mess made by the Obama administration.”
So in other words some of the youngest and sickest children will go uncovered, but other, presumably healthier children will get insurance coverage. It resembles the plot of the movie Sophie’s Choice in its calculation: choose one child over another child.
Whether Fallin and Doak are making a prudent decision or not misses the larger point that the profits of health insurance companies continue to dictate major aspects of our medical system. Health insurance companies, of course, want to insure the healthiest people in our society and not insure unhealthy people, such as premature babies, who require extensive medical attention. It’s a calculated business model.
It also shows how broken our health care system remains even after the Affordable Care Act, which strives to increase insurance coverage in the nation, thus eventually lowering costs for everyone. The problem, of course, is that ACA-primarily because of Republican opposition-didn’t include a public option for coverage, which would have eliminated the need for Fallin and Doak to make this stark decision in the first place.
The Oklahoma Hospital Association and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy oppose the rule change, according to the media report, but these issues will continue to perplex our culture as long as insurance companies are allowed to dictate winners and losers in our health care system. It’s a terrible and costly system. When we cater to it, our costs go up and the level of care does down.