You betcha! Matt Yglesias has his finger firmly on the pulse of the American people’s:
Clearing the landscape of this kind of mirage insurance and making sure that everyone has proper coverage—which, yes, may be more expensive—is a feature of the Affordable Care Act, not a bug. The White House has every reason to hold its head in shame over the shambolic state of healthcare.gov, but the wave of cancellation letters is part of Obamacare doing what it was supposed to do. There’s little to regret about these plans vanishing from the earth.
He just knows, OK?
Hey, who are we to dictate strategy? Go on, libs. Run with this. We insist:
* * *
It’s worth noting that Yglesias thinks insurers used to routinely cancel peoples’ coverage the moment they got sick:
The ACA cracks down on insurance rescission. It was famously difficult on the old market for people with “pre-existing conditions” to get coverage. That’s because insurance companies don’t want to cover people who are actually sick. Even healthy people generally want health insurance coverage because they might get sick. But an insurance company has no desire to actually foot the bill for a seriously ill person’s medical treatment. Hence, in the individual market the standard practice was to earn a profit selling peace of mind to healthy people, only to pivot as quickly as possible toward cancellation of the plan as soon as major bills started coming in. The ACA, rightly, puts a stop to this scam. [Emphasis added.]
“Standard practice”? Really, Matt?
In reality, this “standard practice” rarely occurred, in part because guaranteed renewability of individually-purchased health insurance has been the law since 1997. Even before 1997, as John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis has noted, the practice of rescission was rare:
Do you think there would be a vibrant, active, ongoing life insurance industry if insurers could renege on their part of the contract after someone dies? How many of us would buy fire insurance if the insurers could change their minds and refuse to pay after our house burns down? Would you buy auto insurance from Allstate if the “good hands” could disappear after a collision occurs?
These things do not happen because
1. Insurers are contractually obligated to keep their side of the bargain and courts enforce these obligations just like any other contract;
2. Regulatory agencies enforce good behavior, quite apart from any lawsuit, and;
3. An insurer that routinely refused to pay claims would lose customers and go out of business.
All of which explains why Edie Sundby’s insurer didn’t cancel her plan after she was diagnosed with Stage IV gallbladder cancer:
Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.
Slate owes its readers a correction.