Why require every American to have health insurance?
This mandate in the new health care law is a favorite whipping boy of those who derisively refer to "Obamacare." Republican attorneys general and conservative groups are challenging the requirement in court. Republican campaigns bash it in their advertising.
To understand why they're wrong, and the requirement is necessary, consider the insurance industry's cutoff of children's health coverage in Kentucky and other states.
The new law comes on line over the next four years. The first changes took effect last month. One of them bans insurers from rejecting children who have pre-existing medical conditions. How has the industry responded? By stopping selling policies for children altogether.
Not until 2014 does the mandate take effect that will require all but the poorest to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.
Until then, the industry reasons, people will wait until their children are sick or injured to sign up. The industry is unsure how to underwrite that risk and says the high cost of treating an influx of sick kids would impose undue rate hikes on the rest of its individual customers.
So, insurers, including Humana and Anthem, are pulling out of the small portion of the market represented by children-only policies. (Most kids, as well as most working-age adults, are covered by employer group plans.)
Kentucky Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark has summoned insurers to explain themselves at an Oct. 13 hearing in Frankfort.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.kentucky.com.