As someone who dedicates their life to best serving the needs of clients and making sure that they are adequately protected from the “real” holes in insurance, I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of disinformation and villianization of the entire health insurance industry. I am equally shocked by the general lack of understanding of how the insurance system works, even on the most basic level.
There is a growing and disturbing amount of propaganda appearing in conservative and liberal publications seemingly for no other purpose to sell media. The lack of research people of authority or influence conduct before weighing in with an, all knowing, summary is, in my opinion, inciting. Over the past week, I have stumbled on to two enormous articles with, an apparent, intentional misrepresentations of facts and reason.
On September 18th, the Chicago Tribune, featured a page-1, Jon Yates, article on the plight of a suburban family who’s 17 year old daughter had coverage rescinded. The article went to great length to imply that the carrier, American Community, acted abusively, in rescinding coverage for this child. The article implied that American Community had a pattern of rescinding coverage for those with claims. I decided to make contact with the carrier contact and learned that the company spokesperson had been berated with hate mail and wishes of her death.
Understated and minimized in the article was that the parents had “forgot to write down” a few things like dizziness, fatigue, persistent cough, and high cholesterol lab work even though the same parents were concerned enough to repeatedly go to the doctor about those conditions. The writer went on to say that the insurance company premium was $130 per month, while guaranteed issue insurance from Illinois Chip averages $7666 per year, and as much as $16,000 per year, implying that American Community baited the applicant into applying with the intent to cancel if a problem comes up. The Truth was that the child could have paid as little as $157 per month for coverage with no preexisting condition clause and no more than $257 for the best plan offered by the State. Lastly, while subtitled that “Illinois Director concerned about carrier’s number of rescissions”, it made small mention that the Illinois department of Insurance upheld all 11 of the rescissions over the past two years.
On September 17th, A UPS Syndicated columnist pulled the same thing. Titled “Pray for insurance”, she took issue with the insurer for cancelling her coverage after a cancer claim. She wrote “It had obviously stayed up nights searching out a reason to rid itself of this tiresome journalist”. (Wow, that would be terrible if a carrier did that.) Oh yeah, by the way, the reason they cancelled her? BECAUSE SHE WAS NO LONGER AN EMPLOYEE AT THE FIRM. She had been terminated as an employee and was only an independent contractor, and no longer eligible. (Maybe her firm wrongly terminated her too) She argued that she has paid for insurance for 50 years and thus apparently was entitled to coverage at a firm where she no longer was an active employee. If she thinks she is an employee there and entitled to benefits, it’s an issue for the IRS.
The writer, Georgie Anne Geyer, went on to say that she was offered COBRA, which she referred to as “the government’s interim insurance system” for $454 per month, then Medicare, and a Medicare Supplement. Well, Ms. Geyer, COBRA is not a government interim insurance system. COBRA is Title X of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. It allows you to stay on your employer’s health plan for up to 36 months after you leave your job. You pay a 2% premium over the cost to the employer, with that 2% covering the administrative cost to collect money for you and administer your benefits. Since you are apparently over 65, you received your coverage at an approximate 50% discount to the actual, incremental cost. She went on to imply that because her 36 year old daughter has cancer, she may soon be out on the street if the insurance cancels her, which it hasn’t done. She also incorrectly states that her daughter would not be eligible for Medicare, although 3 million people under age 65 are currently on Medicare. This article is not news or opinion; it is a call to action, mob action.
While the 1st amendment insures the right of free speech, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in Schenck v. United States in 1919, and Brandenburg V. Ohio, in 1969, that inflammatory speech directing or incenting imminent and lawless action, was not protected by the 1st amendment rights. The town hall meetings have shown that health care is a topic that results in visceral, emotional, and at times, violent actions. It can’t keep going this way. From my view, I would rather discuss proactive change than discuss reactive defense.