I am a Louisiana resident who has studied, worked in and dedicated my life to public health. Upon reading some of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposals for health care reform, I felt concerned for the future health of my community.
Despite what Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have said in recent interviews, at the time of my writing this (Nov. 18), greatagain.gov, the website outlining the Trump administration’s policy plans, still reads: “The administration also will work with both Congress and the States to re-establish high-risk pools — a proven approach to ensuring access to health insurance coverage for individuals who have significant medical expenses and who have not maintained continuous coverage.”
Contrary to this claim, both the Commonwealth Fund and the Kaiser Family Foundation — organizations that research health care efficiency — have stated that high-risk pools don’t actually save money.
In Louisiana, a state with staggering rates of chronic illnesses, high-risk pools would be especially detrimental. Both diabetes and cancer are included on the extensive list of diseases that can land patients in these high risk pools. 2014 CDC data shows that 11.5 percent of Louisiana residents are living with diabetes, and we have the second highest cancer incidence rate in the nation.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a system using high-risk pools will require individuals with diabetes, cancer and other chronic conditions to pay substantially higher premiums, up to 200 percent of the market rate, for their health insurance plans. These more expensive plans will still saddle them with high deductibles and high copays. Inability to make these payments can cause thes e patients to forgo the care they need to manage these pre-existing conditions, turning instead to emergency rooms when these conditions become critical. This means that all patients, even the privately insured, would have to wait longer for emergency care. Those with poorly managed chronic conditions are less able to work and provide for themselves and their families, meaning high-risk pools pose a threat to Louisiana’s health care system and economy. Creating a system that works for all Americans will require a commitment to cooperation across the aisle and across the health care system. But the Louisiana that I was raised in is a state where we care for each other when things get tough — the recent Baton Rouge floods come to mind as an example. A Louisiana where we fail to care for those in greatest need is not the Louisiana I know at all.
health care professional