Ron Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, was supposed to be a private citizen again by now. But somehow he managed to beat former Senator Russ Feingold in last November’s election and Wisconsin is stuck with him for six more years. Which means the rest of us are, too.
Johnson may not be the dumbest man in the Senate, but he’s definitely in the top five. And his stupidity was on full display on Sunday during an interview on Meet the Press.
The subject was healthcare. Host Chuck Todd started out by noting that the Republicans who have been crafting a new healthcare bill in the Senate have no idea why insurers are leaving the Obamacare exchanges, because there have been no hearings in which senators could ask that question.
But Johnson had the answer to Todd’s question, and he pointed the blame squarely at Obamacare’s protections for Americans with so-called “pre-existing conditions.” Johnson said,
We know why those premiums doubled. We’ve done something with our healthcare system that you’d never even think of doing, for example, with auto insurance. Where you’d require auto insurance companies to sell a policy to somebody after they crashed their car.
Yes, America, this United States senator just compared your healthcare to an auto accident. What he said is absurd on its face, but let’s break it down a little.
First of all, if you’re in an accident and it is determined to be your fault, your rates may go up, but, especially if it is your first or maybe even a second accident your insurer won’t automatically drop you. And, after a while with a clean record, your rates will go down again.
Under the pre-Obamacare system if you had a pre-existing condition (which, if you are a woman, could have been something as basic as a pregnancy), insurers would likely refuse to insure you, or, if you were “lucky,” they would offer you a policy with extremely high premiums. And those premiums would never go down, even if you went years without needing care for your pre-existing condition.
Add into the mix the fact that a car crash isn’t inevitable. Many drivers go for years without ever having an accident or filing an insurance claim. But sickness is going to happen. And whatever illness befalls you, it has the potential to become a pre-existing condition to your insurer. My daughter was denied insurance for years because she had exercise-induced asthma as a middle schooler. So not only could she not get coverage for her asthma, she also could not get coverage for more serious conditions, either.
And that brings me to the final, and perhaps most important point. If you are involved in an auto accident and it is determined to not be your fault, your insurer probably will continue to insure you, and will continue to do so without raising your premiums. Now, in terms of health, of course, there are conditions that can be blamed on the individual, but the vast majority of illnesses are due to circumstance and your genetic makeup. Your illnesses, by and large, aren’t your fault.
Senator Ron Johnson thinks that, like a driver who can have his auto coverage dropped after an accident, you only deserve insurance coverage when you don’t need it. I wonder if the senator has ever read Catch-22?
Here’s the conversation between Johnson and Todd, from Meet the Press.