Arizonans Prepare to Opt Out of Health Care Reform

by Admin on January 15, 2010 · 1 comment

in News, Patients, Payers

Oh no!  Arizona prepares to shoot itself in the foot again. Health care reform hasn’t even passed yet and Arizona conservatives are putting together a ballot measure to allow citizens to 1)seek out and receive  healthcare services that are otherwise legal, or 2)choose not to participate in any health care system of any type. This initiative, which is similar to other planned in two dozen other states, is backed by Steve Forbes. Forbes’ reasons are good; he wants to promote free enterprise.

But like all free enterprise advocates, he overlooks the fact that we don’t have free enterprise in health care now — we have a poorly functioning patchwork quilt of programs, in which the “free-est” enterprise is manifested by providers who abuse Medicare to line their pockets and by insurance companies who try not to pay claims. And if we opt out of what little we have, what does that do to the state?

And what about the patient — a.k.a. the customer?

I can see many unintended consequences for the state if this measure should get on the ballot and pass:

1)it could be tied up in the courts for years, while the Supreme Court gets ready to decide whether this is a case in which the wishes of the state trump Federal law. During that time, millions are spent by insurance companies to try to protect their businesses and hedge their bets, rather than spent on delivering care conscientiously;

2)it could undermine what little reform is left in the proposed health insurance reform legislation, because insurance companies would have to deal with the uncertainties of having to insure everybody and not knowing who will opt out;

3)It would allow the healthy people to opt out, leaving the sick in the insurance pool, which would

4)Lead to the departure of insurers from the state because they can’t make any money insuring only the sick;

5)It could drive up premiums for people who want to be insured because they are realistic and know they are likely to get sick at some point in their lives, and limit their choices;

6)It could create a population that is unhealthy, unproductive, and infecting or affecting the rest of us;

7)It could cause even more people to go to the emergency rooms for primary care, driving up costs further.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over the shortsightedness of all this. I realize many Americans don’t like the current version of health insurance reform that may or may not pass  (depending on the outcome of the Massachusetts election), but what do they propose to put in its place?

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