Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some Important Questions About Health Care Reform

Katha Pollitt at The Nation makes some great points in the Health Care Reform debate:

Whatever happened to, um, health? Wasn't that a big part of the original case for reform? The 46 million uninsured, the 20,000 people who die every year for lack of medical care, the studies showing that people without insurance get worse care than those with it, even after car crashes?

Where are all those people with infuriating stories of being denied essential care by insurance company bureaucrats, and those who thought they were covered when they weren't, and those who were hit with huge bills because of fine print in their contracts?

What about the people who can't quit their jobs because they need the insurance? The people who struggle and sacrifice to pay enormous premiums? The people who cut their pills in half to save money, or who can't afford them at all?

And what about doctors? My internist and gynecologist no longer even take private insurance because of the endless hassles and frustrations. Why don't we hear more about how fed up doctors are with the status quo?

Listening to the radio earlier this summer, I heard a 59-year-old nurse named Robin Batin testify in the most heart-rending way before the House subcommittee on oversight and investigations, chaired by Representative Bart Stupak. When she developed invasive breast cancer, her insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, rescinded her coverage because of a pre-existing condition--dermatitis--even though her dermatologist called to say it was acne, not, as the company claimed, a precancerous condition.

Stupak confronted the heads of Assurant Health, UnitedHealth and WellPoint with the fact that there are some 1,400 conditions that can be used to cancel a policy, most of them so minor and obscure that the executives had never heard of them. Between 2003 and 2007, the three companies saved $300 million by rescinding at least 19,776 policies. By the time Batin finally got her surgery, her tumor had doubled in size. The Congressmen were shocked--they had no idea. Neither did I. The program? This American Life. I love Ira Glass, but come on, people! "Rescission" should be a word on the tip of everyone's tongue by now.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

I'll take my insurance company beurocrat over a federal government beurocrat any day. BHO has failed to make his case to seniors and those with private insurance. Granted it's a hard case to make with all those messy facts getting in the way. Higher cost, rationing, 3 or 4 months to see your primary care physician.

Stiff said...

On the 'Ya'll Politics' blog, JDBerry says the U.S. already has universal coverage for all Americans. How delusive a position! JDB is an example of the narrow minded republican getting his talking points from Limbaugh. However, if universal coverage is already available to all, then it shouldn't cost anything to ligitimize it!