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PGvsPow.jpgThose of us who spend a lot of time watching insurance companies are
worried about a seemingly innocuous provision in the Senate health
reform bill: Insurance companies and employers could provide up to a
50% "discount" for "wellness" in the major health reform bill. My
thought: Who is it that insurance companies want to discourage from
buying their policies?

Most of us would think the discount involves not smoking, eating right, maybe trying to lose weight. But the suspicious minds see more. There's
no definition of "wellness," so if insurance companies or corporations
want to discourage pregnant women or people with HIV or diabetics, they
could define the conditions as pernicious to wellness. 

"It's a huge loophole," Georgetown University health-policy expert
Karen Pollitz told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Health insurers have been hardwired to
discriminate on the basis of health status. That's how they make money."

Yet
the latest version of the bill, buckling to pressure from gun owners,
specifically states that a lawfully owned gun in the house--or on your
hip--must not be considered a danger to health or wellness.

I
sure hope this "wellness discount" is clarified and restricted in the
final version of the bill. But if not, it would be interesting to see a
court case on the guns-vs.fetuses point. Broadly, consumers could argue
that anything less dangerous to health and wellness than a gun in the
house cannot be used as a reason to refuse the maximum discount. If
that ends up giving discounts to smokers, insurance companies can go
talk to the NRA about it.