Can Your Realistically Fire Your Insurance Company?

Mitt Romney Mitt Romney recently gave a speech where he talked about health insurance. In part of that speech, he said something that sounded as though he enjoyed firing people. He was talking about firing one’s health insurance company.

Politicians should be extremely careful about the words they choose to say during an election year. Specific phrases, when taken out of context, can be used by a person’s opponents to make him or her look bad. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to learn that this sort of thing happens, or that it is a tactic that has been frequently used in an attempt to sway voters.

Mitt Romney is one of the candidates who is hoping to win the Republican nomination to run in the upcoming election for President of the United States. Naturally, this puts him into the spotlight, and also puts him under a lot of scrutiny.

Recently, Mitt Romney was at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Nashua, New Hampshire. A small part of what he said in his speech was this phrase: “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me”.

I think it is fairly obvious why this particular phrase can appear controversial, especially when taken out of context. Perhaps it wasn’t the best choice of words for a candidate who has been in the news because of his involvement in firing lots and lots of people. It also isn’t the most ideal phrase to use right now, when thousands of Americans are struggling to find employment, after being laid off.

The full quote, in its entirety, reads: “I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don’t like what they do, you could fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone isn’t giving the good service, I want to say, I’m going to go get someone else to provide this service to me”.

Can the average American realistically decide to “fire” their insurance company, though? Let’s say that you are getting health insurance through your employer. You decide that you are not happy with the service that insurer is providing. You decide to “fire” the insurer, and cancel your policy.

This will leave you completely without health insurance coverage until you are able to get another insurance company to accept you. It also leaves your spouse and children with no health insurance coverage. There is no guarantee that you will be accepted by another insurer, or that you will be able to afford the policy that you are offered. This is not a good situation to be in.

Perhaps Mitt Romney was speaking about an ideal world, where every American is able to choose from a plethora of health insurance companies, all of whom are offering excellent coverage at extremely affordable prices. This “health insurance utopia” does not currently exist in the United States. I think Mitt Romney is going to face a lot of negative feedback for his unfortunate turn of phrase.

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