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Sick Around America: Half-Assed Health Insurance Doesn’t Work

This infuriates me. And not just because I have a pre-existing condition that would likely have me on the "insurance blacklist."

It’s especially timely because growing numbers are looking for individual health insurance after losing their jobs. On top of that, small businesses, which make up the bulk of South Florida’s economy, are frequently finding health policies too expensive and are dropping coverage, sending even more people shopping for insurance….

”This is absolutely the standard way of doing business,” said Santiago Leon, a health insurance broker in Miami. Being denied for preexisting conditions is well known, but when a person sees the usually confidential list of automatic denials for himself, “that’s a eureka moment. That shows you how harsh the system is.”…

Imagine working your rear end off for a company and having them close down in this recession. But you’ve paid into an emergency fund for health care coverage, so you think you’ve planned ahead and made wise choices.

Or, if you own a small business (as I have), trying desperately to find affordable coverage for your employees and continually getting quoted insane prices for a relatively healthy group of people that none of you can afford. It’s nuts.

And then, you get slapped with the fine print:

Many jobless Americans are shocked to learn that the health plan, either paid for by the employer or deducted from each paycheck, costs so much. The average payment under COBRA can be around $1,200, and much higher if your company had a really good health plan….

$1,200? That’s reasonable compared to what you could be paying if you have a pre-existing condition and have to pay out-of-pocket for an individual plan.

Once you are out of the workplace, you have no leverage to negotiate on a group basis for a lower rate. It’s just you and your meds, and whatever an insurance company does or does not want to cover.

In what universe does it make sense that the people who most need regular medical care are the ones least likely to get it?

Or that people who are now out of work in their chosen field — and are turning up at fast food joints or pizza delivery trucks or various other lower wage jobs just to make ends meet — now have no decent, regular health care coverage. So communicable diseases they have get spread around the community if not treated.

How does this make any sense at all whatsoever?

Only in a system where medical care is treated solely as a "for profit" enterprise, and where public health concerns mean nothing. That’s where.

The market takes care of its own, and screw the rest of us when it comes to health care.

That has to change. Or we are going to be in an even larger world of hurt if a bird flu or other pandemic hits. Just imagine how far some pandemic disease could spread if no one could afford to go to the doctor and have their symptoms identified until it had been spread through every school and public office and business in your county? And then tell me that health care isn’t important.

Frontline has what looks to be a very intriguing documentary airing on this subject tomorrow evening entitled "Sick Around America."

Here’s hoping some policy-makers are watching it, even though they still have their government-paid healthcare intact. But to keep it, they have to stay in office, don’t they?

Christy Hardin SmithCommunity

Sick Around America: Half-Assed Health Insurance Doesn’t Work

This infuriates me. And not just because I have a pre-existing condition that would likely have me on the "insurance blacklist."

It’s especially timely because growing numbers are looking for individual health insurance after losing their jobs. On top of that, small businesses, which make up the bulk of South Florida’s economy, are frequently finding health policies too expensive and are dropping coverage, sending even more people shopping for insurance….

”This is absolutely the standard way of doing business,” said Santiago Leon, a health insurance broker in Miami. Being denied for preexisting conditions is well known, but when a person sees the usually confidential list of automatic denials for himself, “that’s a eureka moment. That shows you how harsh the system is.”…

Imagine working your rear end off for a company and having them close down in this recession.  But you’ve paid into an emergency fund for health care coverage, so you think you’ve planned ahead and made wise choices.  

Or, if you own a small business (as I have), trying desperately to find affordable coverage for your employees and continually getting quoted insane prices for a relatively healthy group of people that none of you can afford.  It’s nuts.

And then, you get slapped with the fine print:

Many jobless Americans are shocked to learn that the health plan, either paid for by the employer or deducted from each paycheck, costs so much. The average payment under COBRA can be around $1,200, and much higher if your company had a really good health plan….

$1,200? That’s reasonable compared to what you could be paying if you have a pre-existing condition and have to pay out-of-pocket for an individual plan.

Once you are out of the workplace, you have no leverage to negotiate on a group basis for a lower rate. It’s just you and your meds, and whatever an insurance company does or does not want to cover.  

In what universe does it make sense that the people who most need regular medical care are the ones least likely to get it?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com