Saturday, September 5, 2009

On the Health Care Debate: Why Insurance Companies Suck

Originally, I wanted to write about the evolution of criticism of interpretative dance this morning, and how it could be approached from magical, mythical, modern and postmodern representational models; and then to determine which model is the most effectual in that endeavor, or whether the four models need to be integrated. After four cups of water, three cups of coffee, two Aleve Liquid Gels, and the eventual dampening of a hangover, it occurred to me that I should turn, with laser beam focus, my attention and thoughts to a current and pressing issue: the health care debate.

As a lawyer who has represented creditors in bankruptcy proceedings, my experience is that the principal reason debtors file to re-organize or discharge their debts is not to screw the people to whom they owe money. Rather it is because they suddenly and unexpectedly got hammered with medical bills at a moment when they were uninsured or, more typically, under-insured.

Though it doesn't rise to the level of tragedy, my family and I had an issue once with these amoral guardians of our physical well-being and continued health. I took a job at an institute of higher learning, believing that I had finally found a way out of the queasy roller-coaster ride of private practice. Caught in the middle of a power shift, over which I had no control, funds that paid my salary were withdrawn.

Before taking the job, my family and I were covered by a company whose name rhymes with Mlew Bross and Flew Spield. It was reasonably priced, and covered us well. The institute of higher learning offered an excellent plan through the same insurance company. We dropped the private coverage and enrolled in that provided by my new employer. After leaving employment, and going back into private practice, we sought to pick up our old coverage. Mlew Bross and Flew Spield raised our monthly premium by $200, and exempted us from coverage EVERYTHING we had ever used it for before, rendering the proposed coverage useless except as a safety net for something catastrophic. Bastards.

Luckily my wife and children are on the rolls of an Indian tribe, and they were eligible for health care that costs close to nothing, and it was high quality and quick--perhaps an example of what care under a public option might look like. Being one-hundred percent honky, I was not eligible for Indian Health Care. For more than half a year, I took my chances and went uninsured.

Eventually my wife gained a position at an organization that offered coverage through a company whose name rhymes with Ploamutiny Flare. Each time we have had the occasion to use it, we receive correspondence from Ploamutiny Flare denying the claim. We call them asking why the claim is being denied and every time we go to the doctor we are faced with the prospect of owing in excess of $200. The answer: "We're just making sure that you do not have primary coverage in place before us." Our response: "No, you are it, just like last week."

Health insurance companies are in the business of denying coverage. For every dollar denied, a dollar is profited. Claims adjusters at health insurance companies receive bonuses based on how many claims they can successfully deny. They are solely in business to profit. Out of those profits, the health insurance industry spends millions upon millions of dollars scaring people into believing bat-shit crazy stuff like the Democrats can't wait to kill your dear old granny in cold blood. Millions of dollars in denied claims are poured into executing a campaign of fear and lies, hoping to defeat logic and compassion. Sadly, sometimes that works.

The issue boils down to trusting the health insurance companies to do what's right, or give a non-profit organization (the government) the option to compete. Based on what I have seen and experienced, I think we need the public option. Profit shouldn't trump public health.

-The Lawyer

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