Monday, April 28, 2008

All the Usual Suspects

[Welcome Industry Radar readers!]

This is an election year.

Politics is almost always the lead story in national news, and a perennial hot topic is health care and health insurance. The American Cancer Society has decided to jump in the fray and pitch the need for universal health insurance. They do so by airing stories like this about Mark Windsor who has cancer.

"If I probably had gotten some good treatment several years ago I probably would have been cured," Windsor said from his home in Atlanta, Georgia.

The reason he didn't get care sooner -- he couldn't afford it, because he didn't have insurance.

Mark was diagnosed with a rare cancer 25 years ago at age 27. The article does not state if he had insurance at the time, or any time prior to a few years ago when he married a woman who had health insurance and could cover him under her plan.

By the time he picked up health insurance his cancer had progressed to the point of being essentially untreatable.

Mr. Windsor and the American Cancer Society want to blame health insurance carriers for Mr. Windsor's plight. No one wants to look at the options that WERE avaialable, including health insurance through an employer plan.

And what about his wife, Val?

"We're going through a divorce," he said. "Because I have so many hospital bills now, insurance companies have denied to pay I've done what I think is proper, filed for divorce, so that my wife is not stuck with my hospital bills."

Well that's a bit disingenuous.

Carriers can't simply deny claims simply because there are so many of them. But the casual reader would imply that carriers are run by folks who delight in denying legitimate claims.

Karen Ignani, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, says the organization would like to see all Americans covered. "Anytime anyone falls through the cracks, this is a major societal, national problem.

Portraying Mr. Windsor as a victim is an insult. There are always options including taxpayer funded plans (like Medicaid), employer group health plans and, in many states, risk pools. At one point in the article Mr. Windsor states he earned too much ($30,000) to qualify for Medicaid. As a self employed individual, Mr. Windsor controls how much (or how little) he earns each year, but it is much easier to blame the carriers and the "system" for his plight.

In other words, round up all the usual suspects and throw personal responsibility out the window.
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