Battling the Insurance Industry

BATTLING THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY….Cathy Seipp, who contracted cancer several years ago, tells us that if we’re in the market for a health insurance policy, we should pay close attention to the policy’s out-of-pocket cap. Hers jumped recently from $5,000 to $7,500 in a single year:

By law, insurance companies aren’t allowed to adjust your monthly premiums just because you get sick. But they can raise the out-of-pocket cap for all of their members anytime they like, which amounts to the same thing because it affects only the unvalued sick members.

….The worried well, however, tend to be remarkably ignorant about medical insurance. Policy wonks keep arguing about market competition and consumer choice. But healthcare for the sick isn’t a market because choice disappears. You can’t shop around for generic drugs when you have cancer. Whatever chemical treatment the doctor suggests, it almost certainly will be a brand name costing several thousand dollars a month.

….[My latest] oncologist’s report clarifies what is the crux of my current problem with Blue Cross ? and the problem any health insurance company has with cancer patients who just don’t hurry up and die already. These new therapies may be great for humanity but not for WellPoint executives who don’t like the thought of a $2.5-billion annual profit reduced to, say, $2.499 billion.

One of the reasons America spends so much more than any other country on healthcare is because upwards of 30% of our expenditures are for paper shuffling by insurance companies doing their best to deny treatment whenever possible. By contrast, administrative costs in countries where there’s only one paper shuffler ? and it’s not trying to make a profit from its shuffling ? are closer to 10%.

Battling cancer is bad enough. Why should cancer patients have to battle private insurance companies as well?