By Mike Lillis
Kentucky Senate hopeful Rand Paul (R) warned this week that the patient protections contained in the new healthcare reform law will destroy the insurance market. The Tea Party favorite wants to roll back the law to allow companies to decide for themselves what services they'll cover.
"What I would like to see is a more market-oriented approach," Paul said Monday, responding to the question of whether he supported the law's central insurance reforms, some of which took effect last month.
Paul said provisions of the "Patient's Bill of Rights" — including the prohibition on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions — "can sound really good on the face of it" but will have harmful consequences over the long haul.
"Right now I buy insurance — and I'm healthy — but I buy it in case I might get sick. If you tell me I can get it for the same price after I'm sick, why do I buy it?" Paul asked during Monday's debate with his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway.
"If you give perverse incentives to customers to say, 'Why buy insurance?' then what happens is healthy people drop out, and the system becomes more burdened with sick people. It's really destroying a marketplace."
To discourage healthy Americans from dropping out, the reform law includes a requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty. The individual mandate has been one of the most hotly contested provisions of the law, with more than 20 state attorneys general filing suit challenging the mandate's constitutionality.
Paul, however, didn't mention that during Monday's debate.