Phony Figures

Today Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, released a report that concludes that up to half of all Americans below age 65 — 129 million in all — have some kind of “pre-existing condition” that might otherwise cause them to be denied health insurance coverage.  The report, which was released on the day the House of Representatives began debate on a bill to repeal the “health care reform” legislation, notes that under that legislation those individuals with “pre-existing conditions” cannot otherwise be denied coverage, or be charged significantly higher premiums.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

As is the case so often these days, this report seems to be motivated almost entirely by political concerns — in this case, trying to make a case for retaining the “health care reform” legislation.  Consider the study itself.  It concludes that “50 to 129 million (19 to 50 percent of) non-elderly Americans have some type of pre-existing health condition.”  Can’t we expect a bit more precision from our governmental studies than a margin for error of 79 million Americans?  No doubt the political manueverers at HHS realized that the news media would report the higher number — which is exactly what has happened.  The headline on the ABC News website report on the study, for example, is:  “Half of Americans Have Pre-Existing Health Conditions”.

And consider, too, the fact that the report itself notes that “as many as 82 million Americans with employer-based coverage have a pre-existing condition.”  In other words, those conditions — if they exist at all — have not stopped those 82 million Americans from getting and keeping insurance through their employers.  If the insurance companies were really as evil as Secretary Sebelius and the supporters of “health care reform” legislation argue, how could that have happened?  Why didn’t the greedy insurance companies immediately eliminate coverage for those 82 million Americans?  The fact that, according to the government, as many as 82 million Americans are maintaining health insurance notwithstanding their purported “pre-existing conditions” refutes one of the basic arguments for having “health care reform” legislation in the first place.

Finally, the report shows, I think, that our federal government really doesn’t have much respect for the common sense of Americans.  Does anyone honestly think that if half of all Americans under 65 really had pre-existing conditions that made it impossible for them to get private health insurance we would see the kind of vigorous opposition to the “health care reform” legislation that has continued, unabated, despite the best efforts of the news media and the federal government to quash it?


2 thoughts on “Phony Figures

  1. I think you are missing the point. No one is suggesting that everyone with pre-existing conditions does not have health insurance presently. Of course, if you keep your job, you will almost always continue to be insured. The problem is that, absent this law, if you were to change jobs, you would lose your coverage for any condition that you may have. That creates an economic incentive to stay at your current job. Such detriments to job mobility create inefficiencies in the free market.


  2. Doug, I hear what you are saying, but I seriously doubt that concerns about health insurance are keeping people in their current jobs right now. The crappy economy seems to be doing that quite adequately, all by itself!

    Your point also supposes that all of these people developed their current “pre-existing conditions” after they started working at their current jobs. Otherwise, of course, the pre-existing conditions did not keep them from getting their current health insurance. Do we really believe that 82 million Americans have developed “pre-existing conditions” since they started their current jobs?

    And finally, I can’t see any defense for a study that has a margin for error of 79 million Americans. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the point of the study was to provide political ammunition for those opposing repeal of the “health care reform” legislation. And, of course, the study was then used during debate on the floor of the House for exactly that purpose. Why should we credit a “study” that clearly seems to be politically motivated?


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