Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

Skewering the mentally ill upon Morton’s Fork

The third in a four-part series about mental illness, violence and health insurance

On the morning of September 16, 2013, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist working for a military subcontractor, entered the Washington Naval Yard, a secure military facility, as if he was showing up for work. Since he had clearance to enter the facility, no one asked to look inside his backpack, which contained a sawed-off shotgun and an automatic pistol.

Shortly after entering the Naval Sea Systems Center building, Alexis headed to an atrium overlooking an employee cafeteria, and opened fire, starting an hours-long rampage that forced a portion of central D.C. into temporary lockdown. By the time it was all over, Alexis killed a dozen civilian workers and wounded three more people, including a police officer. Ultimately, Alexis was cornered in a third-floor cubicle and died in a shootout with the police.

The analysis

To find out, National Underwriter conducted an extensive survey of health insurance plans across the country by pulling data from theHealthInsurance.gov Insurance Finder, an online tool that is at the heart of the insurance exchanges mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Those seeking low-cost and subsidized coverage can use the Insurance Finder to locate health plan options open to them in their state of residence. The Insurance Finder then displays all available options with details on each plan, including:

The outcome

This is the three-pronged Morton’s Fork (a selection of choices that really lead to the same outcome) that appears to greet any customer looking to buy health insurance primarily to protect themselves against the possibility of mental illness. The policies are either so expensive — as in New Jersey — that those who could afford them could also self-insure, and therefore don’t really need the coverage. The policies in the middle — as is the case in Kentucky — tend to have sufficient deductibles and other frictional costs as to thin the coverage provided to the point where seeking treatment still requires the patient to incur substantial financial expense on top of their insurance, which defeats the point of having coverage in the first place. The cheapest policies — as in Texas — provide no coverage at all, and simply drain income from those who can least afford it while delivering very little real value.

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Nichole Morford

Nichole Morford
Managing Editor

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