WASHINGTON (AEP) — Many Americans with health insurance are aware that many insurance companies deny benefits for what are called “pre-existing conditions.” But new legislation currently pending before Congress would allow insurance companies to begin denying benefits for “existing conditions,” omitting the “pre” as a requirement for consideration.
Leaders of health insurance companies have reacted quite favorably to the news. “The bill that Congress is now considering is long overdue. It will add tremendous value to our health care system by streamlining it and making it more competitive. There is no sense in which this bill represents anything other than a win-win for both the provider as well as the consumer,” said Ron Williams, Chairman and CEO of Aetna, Inc.
Political leaders of both parties seem equally enthusiastic. “True choice will now be introduced into the system,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“Once again, we see that the market lights the way to true freedom,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Democratic presidential candidate and current front-runner Hillary Clinton also indicated her strong support. “This country needs a health care overhaul to help get control of spiraling costs. This bill is definitely part of any feasible solution.”
Some liberal health care activists were less enthusiastic, however. Said one, “There are 47 million people in the United States without health insurance. While we understand the need for this legislation, there is a very real danger that those 47 million will begin to make common cause with the millions who currently have insurance and are dissatisfied. Their joint efforts could begin to threaten things we hold even more dear, like the entire system which sustains and enriches all of us.”
“That’s such utter crap,” said Mike McCallister, President and CEO of Humana, Inc. “If America stands for anything, she stands for freedom. If we can’t increase that freedom for all of us, then we must rethink exactly what it is we stand for at all.”
Humana’s stock shot up 1000 points on news of the proposed legislation.
The Bush Administration is pushing hard for Congress to pass the bill. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “Look, we’ve got tens of thousands of Iraqi veterans coming home with various physical, and especially mental, ailments. This legislation could be exactly what the doctor ordered to save the country from bankruptcy.”
The American Medical Association has, however, expressed some concern over the bill. AMA President Dr. Ronald M. Davis said, “You know, if you really think this thing through, if this bill becomes law, it means that no one with an ‘existing condition’ will need to waste their time going to the doctor, since their insurance company will just deny the claim anyway. So sick people will stop going to the doctor at all, leaving only well people to go. But who goes to the doctor when they’re well? I mean, this bill could put doctors out of business.”
Informed of Dr. Davis’s comments, Aetna Chairman and CEO Ron Williams said, “Wow, he’s pretty smart. You’d think he’d gone to med school or something.”
In fact, the bill’s supporters openly acknowledge that one of its selling points in so-called “red state” America is its ability to play on what they call working-class anger toward “arrogant members of the medical profession.”
The legal profession is not nearly as cool toward the bill as the AMA. The American Bar Association says it expects to have a field day contesting “existing” versus “non-existing” conditions.
Said an ABA spokesman, “You can’t prove a negative. If I say, ‘Prove there’s no tooth fairy,’ you can’t. If I say, ‘Prove this man didn’t have syphilis until after you denied his claim,’ you can’t do that either. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t make any sense. Christ, this is exactly the kind of thing we go to law school for!”
Other industries are closely monitoring the bill’s progress. Wal-Mart says the bill could set a valuable precedent in the operation of their business. A spokeswoman for the giant retailer said, “Do you have any idea how much money we lose every day from people bringing back items to return? A similar law applied to the retail sector could allow us to deny returns for products with ‘existing defects.’”
The mere mention of this fact by Wal-Mart caused the company’s stock to shoot up eight billion points in afternoon trading.
Said Humana’s McCallister, “All Americans need to realize that we’re all in this together. We’re one big family. This legislation will forge even closer ties between all of us, and make our family even stronger and richer than ever.”
McCallister and the rest of the insurance industry are banking on it.