By Jonathan Small, CPA
On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. This despite warnings from many people—including Oklahoma’s U.S. Senator Tom Coburn and Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland—that this flawed legislation would limit health insurance access and raise costs.
One of Obamacare’s “gifts” is the poorly conceived and poorly implemented provision regarding pre-existing conditions in children. Insurance carriers who choose to cover children now have to sell health insurance policies regardless of a child’s health history. So if a child has no coverage, but has cancer or some other illness, a company must issue a policy to the child. This provision is like requiring property insurance carriers to sell home insurance policies to any homeowner, even if the policy is purchased while the house is on fire. Clearly, under rules like this, either everyone’s premiums would skyrocket or property insurance carriers would go out of business.
So, to respond to this provision, companies across the nation and throughout Oklahoma have simply stopped writing children’s policies, or policies that might lead them to have to write a policy for a child in the future.
Here is where Obamacare greets the Small family. I just changed employers, and it so happens my beautiful wife is pregnant. Since my new employer (OCPA) has a small group plan, there is a 90-day waiting period, so I need to buy temporary coverage. So, trying to be responsible by purchasing coverage to take care of my family, I began to look for coverage other than the ridiculously priced COBRA that is offered by my former employer, the State of Oklahoma. As was the case before Obamacare, my wife will remain on COBRA. But before Obamacare, I and my two daughters could buy coverage with a lower-cost private sector plan that would last until we get on the new employer plan, and it costs about $130 a month. But, thanks to the glorious hope and change ushered in by Mr. Obama, no one will sell coverage to my two daughters and me—because if they did, my third child’s birth is a qualifying event, which could require them to have to offer to put the child on a plan, and if my child was unhealthy they would have to take the unhealthy child.
In sum, Mr. Obama has spread throughout the health insurance market discrimination against healthy children—children who, prior to his meddling, could buy health insurance products as needed. Ironically, this discrimination is preventing my bi-racial children (Obama too is bi-racial) from getting affordable coverage, coverage which could have been purchased with no problem before all this hope and change set in.