Article by Jane M. Orient, MD published in the Washington Times on Sept. 3, 2012
“Insurance” and “coverage” are warm, benign-sounding words. The more the better. With “universal” and “comprehensive” coverage, everyone would be safe and secure, right? There would be no more worries about health care bankruptcy, for example.
People have gotten their photos in the newspaper for not having enough coverage. They’ve had cancer, and the only treatment that might help them has been ruled “experimental” and, therefore, not covered. Chances are, they got it anyway — with help from family, friends, total strangers and likely a loan from the bank. But there are other possible meanings for coverage. It can be stifling, restrictive and limiting. It can refer to six feet of earth. With a health plan, bankruptcy protection is for the plan, not the subscribers who may be forking over $600 a month in lost earnings.
What isn’t in the newspaper is the story of people like Sandra Lobb. She is dead, by the way. Her treatment was covered. But some insurance functionary decided that “given Sandy’s age and her condition, the cost of the care being prescribed can’t be justified.”
The cost was about $7,000, and her husband wanted to pay it. But the hospital refused the money and insisted on discharging the patient. No other facility would take her. They all turned down the money — in the United States of America, not Canada. Imagine that: capitalists refusing payment. How can that be?