Media coverage of ACA insurance market reforms stereotypes entire demographic as chronically “sick”

In the recent past, the word “sick” used as an adjective in the medical context referred to the temporary state of an individual. Someone got sick such as with the common cold or influenza. Then they recovered. Less fortunately, they died.

Now the term “sick” is being used in media accounts in a much broader sense to refer to a permanent state of an entire demographic group. As in “sick and older” in the public dialogue over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and its individual health insurance market reforms. A recent example:

Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, said the industry plans to fight a tax on full-coverage plans that, while intended to pay to expand coverage and bring in more customers, may cause premiums to go up, according to insurers. They’ve also argued against more comprehensive coverage, as well as more relaxed rules about charging sick and older more money for insurance than they do young people. (Emphasis added)

Not all older people are “sick” all of the time or even most of the time. Like younger folks, they sometimes get sick and then get better. Many are quite healthy and are very aware that their bodies require more diligent maintenance in the form of health promoting and preserving lifestyles than in their more forgiving youth. Reading many media accounts, one might think everyone age 50-65 is “sick” and thus creating a major actuarial burden on individual health insurers.

 


Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email fpilot@pilothealthstrategies.com or call 530-295-1473. 

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Frederick Pilot

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