And newspapers wonder why they are dying

Today brings the news that, according to this AP article, “some major health insurance companies have stopped issuing certain types of policies for children.”

Perhaps you are wondering why the insurance companies are doing this. Well, the AP says that this development is “an unintended consequence of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, state officials said Friday.”

Okay, how so?

The next paragraph brings this “explanation”:

“Starting later this year, the health care overhaul law requires insurers to accept children regardless of medical problems. Insurers are worried that parents will wait until kids get sick to sign them up, saddling the companies with unpredictable costs.”

Okay, so that’s a pretty good explanation of why-like the insurance companies are saying and some insurance commissioners are agreeing-we probably need some sort of enrollment period for the “guaranteed issue” policies for children, so that parents can’t put off buying these policies until they are “on the way to the hospital,” as one insurance company executive worries that they will do.

And it helps make the point why, contrary to what some critics of the reform bill want to do, we can’t in general just tell insurance companies not to pay attention to preexisting conditions without forcing everyone to buy coverage. Again, people could just wait to enroll until they get sick, adding only costs and no revenue to the picture from the insurance companies’ point of view, which, you know, really would be anti-business and un-American and whatever other negative things the health-insurance-reform bill is alleged by critics to be.

But it’s not an explanation of why companies would stop issuing policies to children now, while they can still pick and choose which children to cover on the basis of preexisting conditions, general health, etc.

Perhaps the article is trying to make the point that there are two problems: (1) the insurance companies are stopping issuing policies now, and (2) they aren’t planning to start again once the new rules that will require guaranteed issue take effect in September.

Perhaps. And that really could be a problem, one for which the fairest solution would probably be to institute the aforementioned enrollment periods.

But the article only ever gets around to talking about problem 1, and never gets around to explaining problem 2, so I’m just guessing.

It’s disheartening that so few Americans can be bothered to follow important news (as opposed to news about, say, the New Black Panthers).

But when you read articles that make as little sense as this one, it’s hard to blame people for tuning out of coverage about the important stuff.

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