Creating Disposable People

Those with criminal records have long faced devastating collateral consequences for their convictions. Those with “preexisting conditions” should also keep worrying, especially if the big plan to repeal the ACA goes ahead. Consider this story on one person’s quest to obtain insurance:

Most employees assume that if they lose their job and the health coverage that comes along with it, they’ll be able to purchase insurance somewhere. . . .My husband, teenage daughter and I were all active and healthy, and I naïvely thought getting health insurance would be simple. . . .

Then the first letter arrived — denied. . . .What were these pre-existing conditions that put us into high-risk categories? For me, it was a corn on my toe for which my podiatrist had recommended an in-office procedure. My daughter was denied because she takes regular medication for a common teenage issue. My husband was denied because his ophthalmologist had identified a slow-growing cataract. Basically, if there is any possible procedure in your future, insurers will deny you. . . .

As I filled out more applications, I discovered a critical error in my strategy. The first question was “Have you ever been denied health insurance”? Now my answer was yes, giving the new companies reason to be wary of my application. I learned too late that the best tactic is to apply simultaneously to as many companies as possible, so that you don’t have to admit to a denial.

As was recently reported, “50 to 129 million (19 to 50 percent of) non-elderly Americans have some type of pre-existing health condition.” The “health care market” is sending a strong signal: don’t step out of the system, even for a day, if you have any continuing need for even minor care.

The job market is becoming similarly unforgiving. As an LA Times story relates, “there’s a growing trend of employers refusing to consider the unemployed for job openings.” Again, stay in the system, or else.

Someone has to pay for the private insurer CEO salaries, or the “business efficiencies” I noted in my last post. There is so much economic pain to go around that the rationales for distributing it are becoming increasingly harsh and arbitrary. When so many of society’s resources go to the top, there is little margin for error at the (ever larger) bottom. Kudos to the House representatives who gave up their employer-provided health insurance to discover this harsh reality.

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