Last month, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani began running radio ads in which he used his experience as a survivor of prostate cancer to bash government provided universal health care plans. Using misleading statistics, Giuliani claimed that if he had gotten the disease in a country with government-based health care, “chances of surviving” would have been much slimmer:
I had prostate cancer, five, six years ago. My chance of surviving prostate cancer, and thank God I was cured of it, in the United States: 82 percent. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England: only 44 percent under socialized medicine.
Giuliani says he prefers a “free market” approach that uses tax incentives to encourage Americans to enroll in private health plans. But, as the Los Angeles Times reports today, Giuliani’s plan would be unlikely to cover cancer survivors such as himself:
But under the plans all three have put forward, cancer survivors such as themselves could not be sure of getting coverage — especially if they were not already covered by a government or job-related plan and had to seek insurance as individuals.
“Unless it’s in a state that has very strong consumer protections, they would likely be denied coverage,” said economist Paul Fronstin of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, who has reviewed the candidates’ proposals. “People with preexisting conditions would not be able to get coverage or would not be able to afford it.”
Along with Giuliani, the plans of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), who also are both survivors of cancer, would likely exclude Americans such as themselves.
According to experts who spoke to the LA Times, it will take 5-10 years for insurance companies to consider providing coverage to cancer survivors. For example, a prostate cancer survivor like Giuliani “could be covered after five years of being cancer-free, at a 40% higher premium” — five years that is, if they had a “less severe form of the disease.”
Though each of the candidate’s campaigns say they are considering options for closing the gaps in their plans, tax credits and subsidies are unlikely to “cut it.” “If” someone has “a history of severe medical problems,” says Stuart Butler of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Giving them $5,000 doesn’t really help them to afford insurance.”
Marcy Wheeler has more.