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Friday, October 22, 2010

Pre-existing conditions hinder people’s ability to find affordable coverage in Michigan

During an Oct. 20 debate between U.S. Representative John Dingell and his opponent Dr. Rob Steele, Dr. Steele made a comment that “We have no pre-existing conditions in Michigan; we have Blue Cross Blue Shield.”

It is true that Blue Cross covers people with pre-existing conditions and does not reject them for coverage. This has been at the center of our unique nonprofit mission for decades.

The problem in Michigan is that Blue Cross's mission is unique. No other insurer -- until national reform takes full affect in 2014 -- covers the sick. This leaves Michigan consumers with pre-existing conditions with only one option. And this is where Dr. Steele's comment needs clarification.

The problem in Michigan is the affordability of coverage for people who need it most -- those with pre-existing health conditions. This affordability problem arises from the fact that Blue Cross alone covers those with the most serious and expensive conditions. This drives up costs within BCBSM's pool of insured, and that cost pressure is making insurance premiums for the BCBSM pool more costly.

So there is, in fact, a coverage problem in Michigan -- despite Blue Cross being here for those who need health coverage and can't find it anywhere else. The Blues have long advocated for reform that does away with pre-existing condition exclusions and prevents commercial carriers from cherry picking only the young and healthy. While national health care reform requires that all insurers take everyone regardless of health status or pre-existing conditions starting in 2014, Michigan needs to level the playing field now.

To learn more about Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s reform efforts, please visit

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