Denied

Denied
December 10, 2005 Jon Armstrong

We’ve been refused health insurance from the monopoly health care provider in our state. All three of us were refused. Irony 1: This same company who covered my successful cornea transplant in 1998 used this against me and declined coverage. Irony 2: Heather’s post-partum depression being successfully treated was used against her and she was denied. Irony 3: Leta’s two MRIs, which proved she was healthy have been used against her. Denied.

I feared this might happen when I left my day job. But none of us has diabetes. Or cancer. So I naively figured we’d pick up an individual plan at a higher rate than we paid from my previous employer. I figured it might be as high as double or double and a half the amount with a higher deductible. Oh how wrong I was. COBRA was five times what I paid. Five. Per month. We could buy a second home for that amount of money. And furnish it entirely with Sasquatch-related paraphernalia.

I believe the United States is on the brink of a health care something. I read this piece in the Kansas City Star by Paul Krugman (which ran in the New York Times) about how the free market doesn’t work with health care. I couldn’t have stated it better. The “free market” for health insurance is subsidized by tax dollars and is geared to delivering coverage to those who don’t need it most. Insurance companies apparently only insure the healthy. Or those who work for companies with more than 3 employees (and who offer a group plan for employees). They spend great amounts of money and energy weeding out the sick and needy. It’s sheer insanity. I can hear the conservatives cracking their knuckles to comment now. Save it. As a small business person recently self-employed, all the Hannity in the world isn’t going to fix this problem. It’s going to take creativity, genius and sacrifice from every side.

We qualified for a state “high-risk” plan (Irony 4: it’s managed by the same monopoly company that denied us coverage), but the premiums are about three car payments a month. Two if it’s a really nice car. And that is with an enormous deductible. Enormous.

I’ve read where Costco is doing a test of offering it’s members health insurance in certain parts of California which was started this past summer. Since every state has different laws, Costco can’t just roll out a plan for all their members. How crazy is it that a company with millions of private members, who are ripe for health care coverage can’t offer a simple plan across state borders? What if Wal-Mart or Target started offering customers health coverage? I think we’d see some interesting options arise, but I don’t think that is going to solve the crisis.

I’m a believer in universal health care. Especially if the rich pay more. If I make a million bucks a year, I should have a portion of that money go to those who need it more than me, just for the opportunity of making that kind of money. I’d gladly pay it. GLADLY. Whether that’s in the form of a tax or part of my national insurance or whatever you want to call it, it would be wonderful to know that if I didn’t need the coverage, someone who did would get the benefit. I’m afraid I’m in the minority.

The biggest issues facing universal health care in the United States seem to be the powerful insurance lobby (remember the scary ads from the insurance companies in the 90s when Clinton wanted to give a health card to everybody?), the failed notion that free markets and competition will keep prices low and the paranoia that universal health care will somehow be a huge step towards socialism/communism. Add to this the decreasing employer contributions to health care for employees and in the next 5 to 10 yearsof continued inflation of health care costs this country will be in serious shit. I believe that it’s time to put some brain power into solving this issue. There has to be a better way. Creativity, genius and sacrifice.

I plan on writing my local and federal representatives about this situation, but I don’t have a lot of faith that I’ll be heard above the insurance lobby. Individuals who need health care coverage have little recourse. If I’m part of a group, I have guaranteed coverage, but guaranteed at what cost?

So anybody have a great health care plan that takes cornea transplant recipients, depression survivors and very cute toddlers that doesn’t cost three cars a month?

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