CNN Vs. CNN: Health Care Reporter Slams High-Risk Pools Endorsed By Conservative Political Commentator

Elizabeth Cohen: High-Risk Pools Are “Inherently Problematic” For Insurance Customers

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen slammed the Republican proposal to create so-called “high-risk pools” within health insurance markets as a means of phasing out existing patient protections prohibiting discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. Cohen called the pools “inherently problematic,” argued that the insurance offered to people with pre-existing conditions was “ridiculous” before protections were put in place, and noted “a lot of experts think it just doesn't work.” Her comments were in response to late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel's plea to maintain protections for those with pre-existing conditions like his newborn child, who was born with severe heart defects. Hours earlier, conservative CNN contributor Margaret Hoover criticized Kimmel's approach before falsely claiming that high-risk pools would be successful in covering patients with pre-existing conditions under the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act (AHCA) -- the extremely unpopular plan to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation. From the May 2 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:

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JAKE TAPPER (HOST): Elizabeth, without insurance companies being required by law to cover people with pre-existing conditions, could someone like Billy Kimmel be denied insurance because of a condition like this?

ELIZABETH COHEN: Absolutely, Jake. Before Obamacare, that used to happen frequently. Adults and children with pre-existing conditions when they went to go purchase insurance were told “No” or sometimes were told, “Sure, we'll insure you, but for an incredibly high amount of money that many people couldn't afford, or ”We'll insure you for everything except this condition," which of course is ridiculous because that's why you need the insurance. And Jake, when you think about it from a business point of view, to be totally kind of crass here, it makes sense, right? Why would an insurance company want to insure someone who the as risk because they have a disease that's very expensive to treat? It's a known entity. It's a known, expensive entity. Why would they want to insure them if they didn't have to? So, in many cases they just didn't?


TAPPER: Now, there is a lot of talk this week about instead of requiring insurance companies to set-- to cover people with pre-existing conditions, that the states can set up high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions. Does that work? 

COHEN: You know, Jake, this isn't new. Before Obamacare, states had these high-risk pools and there were two big problems. One, there was a huge wait list for them and, number two, they often charged these really high premiums. I remember speaking to people pre-Obamacare about the struggles that they had with the high-risk pools. Now, some of the Republicans are talking now about, “Well, we'll put more money into it and so they will work better,” but a lot of experts think it just doesn't work. Sort of, the whole thing about a pool is that you're supposed to spread the risk around. That's what insurance is, right? Is that it's suppose to be people of varying risks coming together. That's why insurance works, so to have a pool that's just people who are of high risk is inherently problematic.