Surprise! Insurance Companies Don't Want to Cover Sick People
December 5, 2008 - 12:29pm ET
Karen Ignagni is the CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a trade association representing 1,300 health insurance companies. AHIP has launched the Campaign for an American Solution, which is collecting health care stories at gatherings across the country.
KCPW, a public radio station serving the greater Salt Lake Metropolitan area, reported on one of these meetings where small business owners gathered at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce “to share their frustrations about health insurance.” The owner of a small confection broker, Rocky Snow, brought up the problem he faces with Utah's Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool (the state’s high-risk pool, which provides health coverage to people insurance companies refuse to cover because they have a pre-existing condition).
"The premium I face with this particular program is $648 a month and basically covers nothing. I've got to be just about dead before they're gonna step in and do anything. My wife, because she is on two different medications, was denied coverage. I finally worked with SelectHealth on that, and got them to where they will cover her, but it's basically after a $3,000 deductible. Basically, she's gotta be dead, too, before she gets any coverage."
According to KCPW, Snow went on to explain that he still pays much higher premiums than he did a decade ago even though he's much healthier now.
This is how Karen Ignani responded to his concerns:
"We've been working on ways to improve risk pools. In Utah, you've done an important thing in creating a system of risk pools plus private coverage behind the risk pool. What we're trying to do is to say to Washington that they need to identify resources to send to states so we can reduce the premiums you're paying in risk pools. That would help materially what you're dealing with."
In other words, let’s not fix the insurance industry’s inability to provide good coverage to the people who need it most—those with pre-existing conditions. Let’s just keep them segregated in a separate group and get more taxpayer money to subsidize their care so it doesn’t cut into insurance industry profits.
Clearly, the insurance industry cannot be trusted to fix our broken health care system. They’ve had decades to do it and this is where we are. It’s time for a new solution.
- A public alternative to insurance company coverage that is accountable to us.
- Fair regulation and oversight of insurance companies, with government as a watchdog.
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Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future