Speaker Paul Ryan is catching heck for saying yesterday that the main problem with the Affordable Care Act is that it relies on the basic tenet of health insurance: healthy people subsidize sick people, with confidence that when they become sick, they’ll enjoy the same subsidy.
Republican Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois expressed an even grosser misunderstanding of health insurance yesterday during the lengthy House Energy and Commerce hearing on the Republican health insurance revision:
— NARAL (@NARAL) March 9, 2017
Rep. John Shimkus brands himself “a Christian who is 100 percent pro-life.” Rep. John Shimkus doesn’t understand his brand or insurance. Let’s enlighten ourselves with this 2013 explanation of women’s and men’s health issues and insurance from Nancy Metcalf to a male Consumer Reports reader with no kids:
Health insurance, like all insurance, works by pooling risks. The healthy subsidize the sick, who could be somebody else this year and you next year. Those risks include any kind of health care a person might need from birth to death—prenatal care through hospice. No individual is likely to need all of it, but we will all need some of it eventually.
So, as a middle-aged childless man you resent having to pay for maternity care or kids’ dental care. Shouldn’t turnabout be fair play? Shouldn’t pregnant women and kids be able to say, “Fine, but in that case why should we have to pay for your Viagra, or prostate cancer tests, or the heart attack and high blood pressure you are many times more likely to suffer from than we are?” Once you start down that road, it’s hard to know where to stop. If you slice and dice risks, eventually you don’t have a risk pool at all, and the whole idea of insurance falls apart.
It’s worth noting that virtually all employer plans cover maternity care for exactly this reason: a unified risk pool. And no one seems to complain about that, for some reason. Moreover, we are all paying taxes to support Medicaid, which foots the bill for nearly half of all live births in the U.S [Nancy Metcalf, “Why Should a Childless Man Have to Buy Maternity Coverage?” Consumer Reports, 2013.11.05].
I just heard Dr. J. Mario Molina, CEO of Molina Healthcare, say that Medicaid pays for 50% of all births in the United States. That’s exactly the figure in South Dakota and California.
A man can get testicular cancer without the involvement of any woman. A woman can’t get pregnant without the involvement of a man. I’d like men and women to keep paying for each other’s travails through health insurance.