Bush and Pelosi swipe at free market medicine

On May 27, 2008, in General, by Neil Stevens

Via Slashdot Science (so it’s a week old), President Bush signed the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act into law on the 22nd. This bill would prevent the proper assessment of medical risk based on improving medical technology, increasing the costs of medical insurance for all Americans, which of course shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what insurance is.

To be fair, though, there as only one vote in the House against this bill, and none at all in the Senate, so this silliness extends beyond the Presidency and to our entire caucuses in the Congress.

In essence, insurance is a gamble. You, the purchaser of insurance, are betting that at some point, you will get sick/lose your house in a flood/get in a wreck/die prematurely. The only reason anyone would take such a bet, is that the insurance company both gets to set the amount of money you must bet, the payoff if you “win,” and conditions in the contract that make it an unfair bet.

So life insurance won’t pay off if your death is self-inflicted, flood insurance can’t be purchased in the private market in areas that flood routinely, and people with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be insured for coverage of those conditions. To buy insurance on that last point, is analogous to betting on the roulette wheel after the wheel was already spun, and the ball already fell on its number. It’s not fair to the house, and in insurance, the insurance provider is the house.

Yet, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) is cheering this and Republicans are quietly going along with it:

“This is a tremendous victory for every American not born with perfect genes – which means it’s a victory for every single one us,” said Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY). “Since all of us are predisposed to at least a few genetic-based disorders, we are all potential victims of genetic discrimination.”

“Today marks the beginning of a new era in health care,” continued Slaughter. “Americans can finally take advantage of the tremendous potential of genetic research without the fear that their own genetic information will be used against them.”

The 22nd did mark a new era of medical care; on that I agree. It marked the day Republicans rolled over without a fight on an attack straight at the heart of free market medicine. Our ability to pool risks and pay for medicine privately is endangered if insurance firms cannot account for risks properly by avoiding the sure losses of pre-existing conditions. So when this bill exacerbates the problem, and the push for socialized medicine continues, let’s remember who to thank.


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Nima Jooyandeh facts.