Pre-Existing Conditions

Advocates for health care reform typically emphasize either restraining cost or covering the uninsured. I understand the practical and moral facets of both arguments but believe advocates are dramatically underemphasizing the most potent issue: the tendency for insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

The ranks of the uninsured include both people who want to have insurance but can't and those who don't want insurance -- in other words, both the needy and the comfortable.

By contrast, most everyone who had been turned town for coverage because of a pre-existing condition is suffering. And on a gut moral level, the idea of denying someone coverage because they had cancer last year ranks just as high in my book as the abstract argument that a just society should "cover everyone."

As one of the commenters on my blog wrote after describing her friends who can't get insurance because of pre-existing conditions, "we are all one job loss and major illness away from personal financial ruin."

Solving the pre-existing condition issue may require a broader coverage base but to me we have the cart before the horse both ethically and politically.

I heard Kathleen Sebelius on the Daily Show the other night and once again she was emphasizing the uninsured and "costs." I remain baffled as to why health care advocates don't stress the pre-existing condition issue.