Letter: The greedy health insurers

I get angry listening to Congressional investigations like the House hearing on rescission of health insurance. Three people told their experiences. I knew about denial for pre-existing conditions; I didn't know people were hired to search for excuses to cancel existing policies when a major illness might cut into profits.

Peggy Raddatz, a lawyer, told the story of her brother who had been diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin's type lymphoma. During his chemotherapy treatment he was informed that his policy was rescinded because he had not disclosed that he had a small aneurysm and some insignificant gallstones. A scheduled stem cell transplant was cancelled.

Raddatz learned that the information had come from a note that a doctor had made about a CT scan but the doctor had not told nor treated her brother for it. They had to locate the doctor who was then retired to verify that her brother had not been informed. On the second appeal the coverage was reinstated -- but her brother had died in January.

Robin Beaton learned that she had an aggressive breast cancer; that she needed immediate surgery. Although her insurance had precertified a double mastectomy, she was notified three days before the scheduled surgery that the operation would not be covered. In May, Beaton had visited a dermatologist for acne and she had listed her weight incorrectly. The hospital wanted a $30,000 deposit. Joe Barton (R-Texas) eventually appealed personally to the insurance CEO -- but in the meantime the tumor had grown from 2-3 centimeters to seven. She now lives with an uncertain prognosis.

The next panel consisted of insurance CEOs who agreed that these were sad stories but that they would not change their rescission policy.

More than 16 million have individual insurance policies -- having filled out long, confusing health histories as part of their applications. I hope they didn't forget a medication they took 10 years before! After all, the insurance companies need money to pay the 350 new lobbyists they have hired to fight against a strong public option; they're spending $1.4 million a day of your premiums protecting their profits.

Barbara M. Edwards


Related Topics: HEALTH