Romney Says Insurers Should Be Able To Deny Coverage To Some People

During an interview with the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney attempted to sketch out the contours of his health care plan and the policies he would enact to help the millions of Americans who cannot obtain health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

Romney suggested that under his plan, consumers with pre-existing conditions would have a “choice” period to obtain insurance, but refused to specify what exactly this period would be. Romney argued that it would be unfair to force insurers to cover people who wait until they fall ill to purchase insurance, noting that such an approach would result in unsustainable cost increases. People who choose to remain uninsured can always find coverage in hospital emergency rooms, he added.

During a 2006 interview on Good Morning America, however, Gov. Romney laid out the same insurance conundrum, but reached a fundamentally different solution. Romney noted that people shouldn’t sit out of the system until they require coverage, but rather than sending them to the ER, he reasoned that everyone should be required to purchase health care coverage so that they don’t pass on the costs of their care to the rest of society:

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“But then once people have all had that opportunity to become insured, if someone chooses not to become insured, and waits for 10 or 20 years and then gets ill and then says ‘Now I want insurance,’ you could hardly say to an insurance company, ‘Oh, you must take this person now that they’re sick,’ or there’d literally be no reason to have insurance.” [Columbus Dispatch, 10/11/2012] [I]f you have people who sit outside the system and instead just show up at the hospital when they’re sick and expect someone else to pay, that’s a free-rider system. It’s bad healthcare for them, it’s expensive for everyone else. Now we’re saying, everybody, come on in. We want you to buy insurance if you can afford it, and we also will help you buy insurance if you can’t afford it. We look at your income, and of course, we subsidize those at very low income.” [ABC, 4/6/2006]

During his run for the presidency Romney has slammed the mandate as federal overreach and a “government takeover” of health care.