Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Health Insurance for Everyone

Health insurance companies seemed to have had a change of heart, announcing today that they would accept all applicants for insurance regardless of their previous health history. This would include any and all pre-existing medical conditions, such as cancer, chronic illnesses like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and disabling injuries.

Is there a catch? Of course there is!

Insurers are pushing for mandatory coverage for everyone. In order for them to be able to handle the costs of accepting all applicants, those who are healthy should also be required to buy insurance to cover the costs of those who are not.

Universal health care is the direction we seem to be heading in, and it's about time in my opinion. The problem I see with this proposal is that mandatory purchases of insurance policies does not guarantee that the services and care I want would be covered. It also does not guarantee that individuals who need more care will necessarily get adequate coverage even if they are accepted under an insurer's plan. Also, as the cost goes up for insurance companies that accept high-cost patients, the cost of insurance coverage will go up all around. Even if the companies wouldn't incur a loss because of the increased number of individuals buying in through a mandatory insurance policy, I wouldn't put it past them to use that high-risk cost factor as an excuse to have to raise policy prices anyway.

It just seems impossible for the government to enforce mandatory purchasing of health insurance.

Regulation of prices and the enforcement of regulations are subjects that have not been mentioned much during the last two years of dueling health care plans. Politicians have given a lot of lip service to changing the state of the system, and it's a mystery how it's all going to go down in the next few years. Most insurance companies do not cover acupuncture as part of their policies, even in California where acupuncturists are considered primary care providers. As an aspiring acupuncturist, I'm concerned with what the revised health care system will include, and whether or not our role as primary care, pain management and preventative care specialists will be upheld.

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