Posted by | September 22, 2010 23:34 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

When the final health care reform legislation passed Congress back in March, I’ll admit I was slightly skeptical. I had serious doubts about 31 million new people being covered largely by the same private insurance companies that have been price-gouging and abusing the rest of the population. Now I’m no longer slightly skeptical; I’m 100% positive that this reform effort was not good enough. While some of the benefits are positive and make the law worth protecting from a Republican repeal attempt, the insurance companies are still largely free to do what they want. One of the highly anticipated benefits of health care reform implementation Thursday is that new rules will prevent insurers from denying coverage to children under age 19 with pre-existing medical conditions, like asthma or cancer. But the insurance industry has found a way around that pesky new regulation.

Health plans in at least four states — California, Colorado, Ohio and Missouri — have announced they’re dropping children’s coverage just days ahead of new rules created by the health care reform law, according to the liberal grassroots group Health Care for America Now (HCAN). Insurance companies like CoventryOne and Wellpoint have been so brazen as to say that their inability to discriminate against sick children “poses undue risks that could undermine our ability to offer value and meet our continued obligations to existing policyholders.” Responding to this ridiculous claim from the insurance industry, HCAN Executive Director Ethan Rome said in a statement:

“We’re just days away from a new era when insurance companies must stop denying coverage to kids just because they are sick, and now some of the biggest changed their minds and decided to refuse to sell child-only coverage. The latest announcement by the insurance companies that they won’t cover kids is immoral, and to blame their appalling behavior on the new law is patently dishonest. Instead, they should reverse their actions immediately and simply follow the law. If the insurance companies can casually turn their backs on sick children now, who will they abandon next? This offensive behavior by the insurance companies is yet another reminder of why the new law is so important and why the Republicans’ call for repeal is so misguided.”

But why, Ethan Rome? Why should the insurance companies obey the new health care law? What is in the law to hold them accountable? It isn’t as if there is anywhere else for these sick children and their concerned parents to go.  If we had a public option that could not discriminate against sick children, maybe the insurance companies would have to change their policies in order to compete. Or maybe they would still make the rational business decision not to cover sick children because it isn’t as profitable for them, either way those children would still be receiving health care. Maybe next time we should elect a president who promises to change immoral and disgusting systems like this one…?

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