Health Insurers’ Newest Con: Poor Health OK, Birthdays Bad

By Karen

Private health insurance groups are worried about potentially deadly competition from an affordable, government-sponsored health care plan so they’re trying to snow Congress with a new shell game: You mandate that everyone buy health insurance from us, and we’ll end discriminatory rating and pricing based on health status.

In the fine print, they add, “Instead, we’ll screw ’em on age, family size, and geographic location.”

It’s a sweet deal for insurers, increasing their customer base by the 45.7 million uninsured. And since they’ve never been able to charge everyone sky-high premiums for poor health, they now can count on us to age.

Just for the record, they already use age as a weapon in the individual market, imposing gratuitous rate hikes every 5 years.

For Republicans, this suggestion keeps their big-business fox squarely in the hen house and they can shove health care back under the rug and pretend everybody’s getting some.

But Democrats had better not fall for this BS. To make private health insurers the fix — by law — will leave Americans even worse off than they are now. Insurers will have free rein to gouge a captive public while continuing to be the greatest obstacle to medical care.

On a personal note, after Anthem tried to hike my premium another 14% this year, I joined the ranks of the underinsured.

Increasing my annual deductible from $500 to $2,250 and giving up prescription coverage, I lowered my annual premium from $5,172 to $2,592. But Anthem put up a fight.

They tried to place me in a higher risk class (level 3) to get the price for crappy coverage up to $3,456, citing “all” the medications (2) I take for hypertension, and my “unoperated” hiatal hernia, which was diagnosed 2 years ago and has never needed follow-up care. According to Anthem, I’m practically an invalid.

Funny thing is, I reported both these situations last year when applying for cheaper coverage (an annual ritual until I have no insurance), with no effect on my risk rating.

Miracle of miracles, Anthem backed down and reinstated my level 2 rating.

But if Congress plays this latest insurance shell game, people like me will be forced to continue fighting for affordable health care against intractable behemoths like Anthem — until we qualify for a government-run plan — Medicare.

Congress, the writing on the wall couldn’t be clearer. Private health insurers ARE the problem you need to solve.

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10 Responses to Health Insurers’ Newest Con: Poor Health OK, Birthdays Bad

  1. Adele says:

    I’ve always heard that consultants are people, who’ll steal your watch and then charge you for telling you the time. There must be something analogous for insurance companies. I’m really hoping that Obama doesn’t feel he has to be too conciliatory toward big insurance and for everyone’s sake health care reform gets passed.

  2. catsworking says:

    Adele, banking and insurance are the two industries founded on the concept of making a profit by providing little to no tangible benefits. Banks charge depositors fees for the bank having the benefit holding the money. Insurance companies take it one step further by charging premiums on the promise of providing NOTHING but a worthless piece of paper saying you have “coverage.”

    Since Obama seems to be rolling over for the banks (which should be allowed to fail if they’re going to continue to be run by the same greedy morons), I greatly fear he’s also going to cave on healthcare.

    I think change will be driven by the medical community, which is also sick to death of health insurers calling all the shots. A majority of doctors and nurses now favor a universal plan that would eliminate insurers altogether. But Washington has been saying it’s the ONLY option it won’t consider. Too much change at once. Too Canadian. Too British. Too French. Too “socialist.” Too efficient. Too cost-effective. Too simple. Too inclusive.

    Meanwhile the rest of the world thinks we’re fools, paying through the nose and even dying to keep INSURANCE COMPANIES healthy. It’s no wonder the country is teetering on bankruptcy.

  3. MorganLF says:

    My right-wing acquaintances, I can no longer consider them friends scoff at the notion of socialized medicine as being a lefty notion to dumb down care. Of course they suck on the public teat, taking advantage of pensions and health care for life funded by MY Lib tax dollars.

    I work so I CAN pay taxes, and have health care, there is no pension or free ride for me. They do not see the hypocrisy of their double standards and what it costs us all to keep on tenured loads that suck the life out of the system earning $90,000 a year marking time until they can retire on huge pensions.

    The system is so weighted down with mediocrity and inept teachers that it has given birth to a whole new industry, schools that teach your kids to go to school! Kid not doing well in school? No problem, just pay to send them for special tutoring at mills like Huntington, Sylvan or Kumon.

  4. catsworking says:

    Morgan, I’ve never heard anyone who has no insurance, or who struggles to afford coverage in the individual market, EVER say universal healthcare would be a mistake. No, it takes complacent fat-cats who have cushy plans THEY DON’T PAY FOR to say the rest of us should be denied access to health care.

    I was very heartened to read the other day that Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has introduced universal healthcare legislation in the Senate, bill S.703, where it’s going to have to be addressed by Kennedy and Baucus, who are for universal coverage, but largely through private insurers.

    You veered off into education there, and I have to agree with you. Too many kids seem to be growing up so dumb or drugged, you have to wonder how they’ll ever make it out in the world.

    On a personal note, I saw In Bruges last night. Loved it! Makes me want to visit Belgium.

  5. MorganLF says:

    Wasn’t Collin Farrell deliciously funny? The Irish sure can turn a curse into an art form!

    “it’s a great big fookin’ canal out there innit?

  6. catsworking says:

    Because I have no life, I was counting the “fooks” as the movie unfolded. I think I heard about 140.

    It’s a fabulous film. Nice plot twists, funny lines and situations. I didn’t even mind all the blood. It’s not one of the roles I’ll fondly remember for Ralph Fiennes (The End of the Affair is my favorite for him so far), but the two hit men were wonderful. I loved the scene outside the tower with the 3 Americans.

    It also made me think Bruges would be a great place for Anthony Bourdain to visit.

  7. MorganLF says:

    Agreed…such a gorgeous place I’d love to go there too.The true irony is that Farell’s character HATED it and called it a “shit-hole” eye rolling every time his partner dragged him to a museum or cathedral…hmm who does that remind you of?

    Now that would be a trip, imagine running into Bourdain in Bruges?

  8. catsworking says:

    You’re right. If Bourdain ever went to Bruges, we’d get a look at all the seamy back streets. Although I don’t believe he’d ever call it a “shithole.”

    Speaking of which, have you checked out the comments on his latest blog entry, “Dear Rachael?” One came from a Vietnam vet who took great exception to what Tony said during his last episode in Vietnam and declared his family would never watch the show again. Must have been some anti-war sentiments.

    I can see the soldier’s point but, as in Iraq, we did pretty much flatten the country (and for what?) and there will always be people who can’t bring themselves to thank us for it.

  9. Adele says:

    Hi Morgan, good to see you around. I saw “In Bruges” last week, and Karen, I started counting the number of “fooks” as well. But Bruges did look beautiful, as did Colin Farrell. I’m a big Ralph Fiennes fan, as well, but this was not a role to induce romantic fantasies.

    This insurance stuff is a bitch. I’m lucky,so far, having worked for the state of Illinois and getting health insurance along with my pension (though every year, the co-pays go up and some benefits are eliminated), but many of my friends, who are approaching retirement age, keep working just to have insurance — particularly those with pre-existing conditions. Universal coverage just seems like a no-brainer. I heard a story about Frances Perkins (FDR’s Labor Secretary) on NPR, yesterday. Seems that when he asked her to accept the position, she said her conditions were Social Security, the 40-hour week, Child Labor Laws, and universal health care. What a forward thinking woman, who’d be shocked to see today’s health care mess.

  10. MorganLF says:

    Yup,saw it and almost responded to the guy, I do feel for the vets. I think he resents Tony apologizing for what we did over there. They had a truly miserable time over there, but our policy was then as now flawed.

    I posted a comment too, teasing him for being so effusive about fruit.

    I’d give cash to see him do the “dancy-dance” though. Man that little girl has him wrapped, and its just so F’n cute! Makes me like him all the more.

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