Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care. The rationale was that women used the health care system more than men. ...Some people say that more health insurance will save money, because increased preventive care will cut more expensive treatments later. But the truth is just the opposite:
In addition, individual policies often excluded maternity coverage, or charged much more for it. Now, gender rating is essentially outlawed, and policies must include maternity coverage, considered “an essential health benefit.”
And the new health care legislation, he says, is not going to make a bit of difference.Most preventive care is not really cost-effective, so it is inevitable that it will be rationed, now that everyone expects to get it for free.
To truly change the nation’s chronic overuse of medical care, there will have to be a substantial change in the way patients think about health care, how medicine is practiced and how it is paid for, economists and doctors say.
The legislation does little to help in those areas.
Women seek mental health treatments much more than men, and the new law has a big payoff for them:
Even without the new health care law, mental health advocates were getting ready to celebrate parity — a law requiring benefits for substance abuse and mental illnesses to be on par with benefits for medical illnesses. ...So I'll also have to pay for mental health insurance that I do not want or need.
Now mental health advocates are almost giddy. The law signed by President Obama last week expands parity to a much wider pool, making it possible for millions more people to get the same coverage for substance abuse and illnesses like bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia as they would for, say, diabetes or cancer.
I suspect that millions of Americans may decide that it makes more sense not to buy that health insurance for things they don't need. They can wait until they get sick, and then take advantage of the inability of insurance companies to look at pre-existing conditions.
Insurance used to mean paying a big company to take the risk of uncertain accident or illness. That concept is dead. Now it means paying for either the medical conditions you already have, or the ones you will never have.