No sooner had the health reform bill been signed into law than some insurers found a loophole. From the NYTimes.com website, the way insurers read the bill is this: while the law requires that any insurance coverage for a child may not exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions like asthma, spina bifida, or acne. However, the law does not actually require insurers to write policies for individuals or families that include individuals with pre-existing conditions. So if your kid has asthma, and you want to buy health insurance for her, good luck, as you probably will not be able to buy it at any price

Doesn't that sound a lot like "it depends on that the meaning of 'is' is"?

But is the insurer "evil"?

When a crocodile drags a gazelle into the water and snaps its neck (or drowns it), is that "evil"? We can not really poll the gazelle for an answer, but we can observe that most creatures of nature follow (one might say "worship") the two imperatives: survive, and reproduce. Survival entails eating, and eating for a carnivorous predator entails killing prey animals with minimal effort and risk. So one might judge the croc's action as "evil", but then its nature, its reptilian persona must be denied, and where does that leave us? It leaves us (or some of us) without a source of handbag leather, for one thing. But I digress.

What is the nature of a corporation? Any different from a reptile? It needs to survive, certainly, and it sort of needs to reproduce, which corporations may do by any number of mechanisms: growth (as in malignancy), stock increases leading to splits (a sort of mitosis), or it can divest parts of itself, creating other, possibly different corporations - another form of mitosis. But to survive AND to reproduce, a corporation must provide sustenance for itself: food, that is. And corporate food is what? Money in the form of profits. If a corporation fails to make profits, it is bound to die. So any corporation has a duty to make profits.

But to make what some call "obscene" profits? To pay its managers and owners (shareholders) what some call "obscene" salaries and bonuses? If you think of managers and owners of corporations the same way you think of fleas on a dog, you'll see that the parasite does not want its host to be anything but healthy. For if the host is healthy, its clients are healthy. (Even a flea knows that!) So the corporate clients endeavor only to ensure the health of their host, which is to say to maximize its profitability.

Maximizing profits is all the insurers are doing by declining to write policies for those with pre-existing conditions. Is that "evil"? However you answer that (for "evil" is a pretty subjective term), you can not deny that maximizing profits goes to the heart of the corporate ecosystem, and can not be suppressed without fundamentally changing what a corporation is and does. In my opinion, a change of corporate nature makes a lot more sense than removing the source of handbag leather, doesn't it?

Update March 30, 2010 The health insurers quickly retracted their position in the face of national outrage and (probably) the fear that a public option (or, horrors, a single-payer plan) would quickly emerge from the landfill our congress has become. They won't do it--at this time. But if times get tough, they won't be able to help themselves, being reptiles. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/31/insurance-industry-alread_n_519503.html.