Above is video of Georgia state insurance commissioner Ralph Hudgens, who by title is ostensibly in charge of commissionering Georgian's insurance but who seems to have a less than perfect actual grasp of the subject, talking about how people with pre-existing conditions ought to be refused insurance because it's their own damn fault
A pre-existing condition would be then you calling up your insurance agent and saying, "I'd like to get collision insurance coverage on my car." And your insurance agent says, "You've never had that before, why would you want it now?" And you say, "Well I just had a wreck, it was my fault, and I want the insurance company to pay for the repairs to my car." And that's the exact same thing on pre-existing insurance.
No. No, it is not like that. Dear Lord, it is not like that.
Let me tell this story again, for the benefit of the Georgia state insurance commissioner and apparent confused person Ralph Hudgens. When my daughter was born, in this very millennium, in a much better state than (cough) Georgia, she had a heart murmur—a tiny hole from one chamber of the heart to another. It was nothing, the doctors who delivered her said, and not too uncommon, and would not affect her in any way, and would almost certainly go away within a few years as such things often do. With this two-minute recovery room conversation, my daughter became uninsurable.
I don't mean insurance would become more expensive. I don't mean any prospective insurer would refuse to cover heart-related conditions, but would cover other illnesses or injuries. I mean that as self-employed individuals in the individual insurance market, we were told by the broker that there was simply no insurance company that would give her coverage. Period. For anything. Our daughter would either go completely uninsured in America for the first years of her life, or she could get herself some new parents with nice corporate jobs in one of those companies large enough for their contracted insurance companies to not ask questions about such things.
Read more on pre-exisiting conditions below the fold.
It takes a lets-call-it-special person to presume, then, that my daughter being born with that particular condition was her "fault", or that as a 15-minute-old child she was already a huckster trying to cheat the gentle insurance companies out of their hard-earned money. The number of total pre-existing conditions directly "the fault" of the people who have them would in fact seem to be damn small, but persons born with those conditions are the handy axe with which to cut Mr. Hudgens's logic off at the root. As a steadfast anti-Obamacare wag, Hudgens is apparently ranting at the notion of private companies being forced to take these persons on at all, rather than just letting them rot as God and Mammon intended.
The Affordable Care Act solved the sticky problem of requiring insurers to be goddamn decent to people by pairing it with an equivalent mandate that everyone, currently healthy or not, purchase insurance from those companies. This was a spectacular deal for the insurance companies, and considerably better for them than my own proposition of shuttering every one of their businesses and having the nation's government run an insurance program not based in major principle on bleeding money from people and then denying them care upon any possible pretense afterwards, but the deal was struck mostly because that is the only economically feasible way the deal could be struck. If you don't want people to purchase insurance only after they get sick, tell them you're going to penalize them for doing that. If you don't want insurance companies telling 15-minute-old children to go to hell because the company does not see a profit to be had in not telling them that, tell them they are not allowed to do it. It is not hard, and if it is a hard concept for a Georgia state insurance commissioner then it is a clear case of a man not having the foggiest idea about the particulars of his job. Which, in a democracy not particularly concerned with effectiveness at one's job compared to how loudly you can bleat the required ideological nothings while running for it, is something that can happen.
The part that turns this into high art, or low art, is that the virulently anti-Obamacare Hudgens has just gone through explaining exactly that very tradeoff in describing the automobile market and that the state requires all motorists to be insured regardless of whether or not they plan to be in an accident. He's making an impeccable argument for the individual mandate, i.e. the Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare, i.e. that thing he hates—but seems to be entirely unaware of it even as it's coming out of his own mouth. What an odd duck.
In response to condemnations like that of Democratic state chair DuBose Porter, who noted, "It is awful to think you could tell a woman who was just diagnosed with breast cancer that it’s her fault," Hudgens now says he misspoke, or at least that he "didn't realize he was being videotaped." Fair enough, let's presume he means the misspoke part and just got so carried away during his anti-Obamacare argument that he forgot what exactly he was arguing for or against. (The didn't know I was being videotaped part, now that I think we can believe without question.) Honestly, I do not know what to believe from the fellow. That is a hell of a misspoke, and it is certainly difficult to see how an insurance commissioner can mispeak their way around the central points of universal insurance coverage while describing exactly the problems that would come from not making that coverage universal.
Or perhaps it is not. Hudgens's main concern seems not to be whether or not Georgians have access to health care, but whether them getting that access constitutes an assault on our corporate freedumz:
“I’m very passionate because I believe that Obamacare, if it is fully implemented, will destroy free enterprise in this country,” Hudgens said with applause from the audience. “The whole thing, I think, is designed to run the insurance companies out of business and go to a single-carrier system, which would be socialized medicine.”
Again, and I hate to tell the fellow how to manage the voices in his own head, but if you were concerned with insurance reform being a trojan horse for running the insurance companies out of town and socializing medicine (heaven forfend someone else's heart attack not be a profit center for a multibillion dollar company, after all) then what you probably ought
to be focusing on is doing your damnedest to promote the one possible system that requires
all Americans to sign up with those insurance companies and pay them money. You really can't get any more pro-insurance-company than that—well, you could, if you perhaps said all Americans should have private insurance except
those who might cost the insurance companies money, in which case they should not get any insurance and should instead die, but surely nobody would (cough) advocate for such a (cough) monstrous, anti-human scheme. Nobody's that much of a bastard.
So what do we make of people like this? Do we lump it in the stupid pile, or the evil pile? As loathe as I am to brand someone a crook or a huckster when the far more charitable label of dumbass could explain the same behavior, this one may be a coin flip.