What Does Obamacare Consider "Hazardous"?

Posted: Dec 02, 2009 12:01 AM
What Does Obamacare Consider "Hazardous"?

Last week, gun lobbyists threw a fit about the possibility of Obamacare raising health care insurance premiums for gun owners. Other organizations that lobby for potentially “risky” activities are split as to whether or not they think Obamacare could affect them.

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"We probably need to look at the bill,” said Ed Scott, executive director of the U.S. Parachute Association, referring to the current health care reform packages snaking their way through Congress. In 2001, USPA became concerned that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) might raise premiums for their members, because the USPA believed there was a chance the bill would designate parachuters as individuals who engaged in “hazardous” recreation. Then Congress could raise their premiums.

Scott said that his concern with the current health care reform packages was that non-specific language would allow his members to inadvertently be singled out.

“My greater concern would be… language in the bill that allowed some agency to deny coverage of certain activities. Not that skydiving or gun owners would be singled out, but that language would allow a person to interpret it that way,” he said.

With the 2001 HIPAA bill, the USPA worked with the American Motorcycle Association to ensure that Americans “who engage in legal recreational activities don't face health-insurance discrimination.” The effort was eventually introduced as an amendment to HIPAA, which died in committee.

Other lobbyists aren’t even slightly concerned that impending health care legislation would affect their sportsmen.

“It’s a non-issue,” said Paul Montville, the executive director of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. Montville said that liability insurance and life insurance premiums are affected by activities that are considered “risky,” like hang and paragliding, but not health insurance.

Randy Shaw, the training manager at the National Association of Underwater Instructors, which organizes scuba diving teachers, said he wouldn’t put it past Congress to at least inadvertently include his members in a higher-risk pool, but that he hadn’t seen anything that would lead him to be concerned.

“Right now people are more worried about how they’re going to keep their dive shops open,” he said. “But if the health care bill were to include diving as a hazardous risk, and increase premiums, we'd try and fight that any way we could… you can pretty much statistically validate that diving is less risky to your health than walking in a major city.”

Shaw had strong feelings about the bill overall.

“The whole thing is just an excuse for them to be able to control your life a little more,” he said.