Are you healthy enough to get health care?

Ritika Jain, Reporter

  Recently, Congress passed the latest version of the new healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This bill would allow states to opt out from a waiver requiring insurers to charge patients the same amount for coverage. This means that insurers can charge more from people with pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is a health condition that a person has before signing up for healthcare. People who have received coverage from Obamacare or who have insurance will not be charged more for a pre-existing condition they have or may develop. However, the Obamacare regulations do not apply to people who have not signed up for insurance. Some of the pre-existing conditions listed by the AHCA include AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, mental disorders, eating disorders, pregnancy, rape and other forms of sexual assault.

  This new healthcare reform sought to be a replacement of Obamacare, whose objective was to ensure that everyone, regardless of health history, will be charged equally for coverage. This proved to be controversial. Although Obamacare has saved many lives, it has been largely criticized for raising health care prices for everyone else. Insurance companies had to compensate for more medical needs than they anticipated, and therefore had taxpayers cover their expenses. Insurance companies hoped that a number of healthy customers would make up for the number of sick customers. However, the companies lack an incentive for healthy people to sign up for coverage they don’t need.

  The AHCA plans to bring back high risk pools as an alternative solution. High risk pools are designed to provide individual health care coverage to uninsurable citizens. This method requires people with pre-existing conditions to pay in a separate pool so that their costs would not affect the general market. Before Obamacare was implemented, high risks pools were used in 35 states. However, CNN Money reports that high risk pools failed to reduce costs for healthy customers, while they increased premiums for sick customers. Additionally, only a small proportion of people in high risk pools were eligible for health care coverage, which was determined based on their medical history.

  A lot of the controversy surrounding the AHCA is in regard to the pre-existing conditions themselves. This new bill would classify pregnancy and domestic violence as pre-existing conditions. The common health problems a woman experiences during pregnancy should not be considered conditions. Likewise, rape and abuse victims should not be denied medical attention for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Making domestic violence or rape a “special” condition or sickness is a form of victim-blaming. Victims of rape and abuse do not suffer from a sickness, nor are they responsible for provoking any violence towards them. Victims of other forms of violence are not denied treatment, so why are rape and abuse victims?

  While the AHCA may have a plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions through high risk pools, in reality it makes healthcare a privilege rather than a right. It further victimizes people with disabilities, diseases, and victims of violence by making it more difficult for them to get treatment. Healthcare should be more accessible to those who need it. The government seeks a more cost effective method, but at what expense? People’s lives?