President attacks health insurance carriers

After allowing these town hall meetings to become daily opportunities for healthcare reform opponents to scream at his fellow Democrats, the President finally went on the offensive:

“No one is holding the insurance companies accountable for these practices. But we will. We’re going to ban arbitrary caps on benefits. And we’ll place limits on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses,” [President Obama] said.

The practice of canceling or denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions will also come to an end, he said.

“No one in America should go broke because they get sick.”

I don’t find myself defending the insurance companies too often, but the President’s statements do invite some questions.  So we are going to ban “arbitrary” (whatever that means) caps on benefits?  Unless we also have tort reform with respect to medical malpractice, won’t this incentivize physicians to order all sorts of tests to cover themselves from liability?  If caps on benefits have been banned, why wouldn’t a rational physician do so?

And we’re going limit out-of-pocket expenses, too?  Great.  That dovetails nicely with the caps on benefits ban.  As a patient, don’t you want to get checked out as thoroughly as possible?  Especially if said checking out is on somebody else’s dime?

And denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions will come to an end?  One would have to be hard-hearted indeed not to sympathize with the poor soul who has multiple medical problems and cannot get health insurance as a result.  But how will a healthcare system work where the patient pays little or nothing, benefits are without limit, and patients with multiple medical problems who will inevitably draw more money from the system than they will ever contribute are guaranteed coverage?  The short answer is, it won’t work.  There will, of course, be rationing.  There already is rationing in healthcare just as there is rationing of any commodity.  The only question is, what or who will do the rationing?  I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the President or any of his political associates to give a straight answer to that question.

The President picked an easy target with the health insurance carriers.  Still, America’s love-hate relationship with private health insurance seems to tilt more toward the former when government intervention into healthcare is the alternative.  Mr. Obama and company have certainly seemed to have lost a lot of the political momentum they had just a few short months ago.

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