“You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.”
Because I’m a masochist, I have actually read through some of the comments to this op-ed on mandating autism insurance by the Show-Me Institute’s own Caitlin Hartsell. Unsurprisingly, they are mostly unfavorable. Most of the comments don’t attack Hartsell’s reasoning or even her conclusions, but seem to assume that because there is a problem (children with autism need treatment) that government action (a mandate forcing health insurance to cover autism treatments) will solve the problem and not cause any negative unintended consequences. These are just further examples of the government-as-magic school of thought. That’s certainly distressing, but I see it so often that I’ve come to take it for granted.
What I do find shocking in the comments is that some people don’t seem to be even remotely familiar with how insurance is supposed to work. The best example comes from commenter bogie90:
And do you buy autism insurance before your child is born just in case they have autism? Who would do that? And the insurance companies aren’t going to cover after the fact, remember pre-existing conditions?
Yes, of course you buy it before the child is born in case they have autism. That’s what insurance is for: to protect you against tragic but unlikely outcomes. You buy fire insurance for your house just in case you have a fire. However, you can’t insure your house against fire once it has the pre-existing condition of being on fire. At that point, insurance is just dollar trading to repair the damage from the fire. This might be one of the big problems with the debate over health care: people do not actually know what health insurance is.