Sunday, March 16, 2008

Healthy venting

Sorry, but I'm going to rant a bit about non-knitting content. If you want to skip it, I'll undersand. I promise knitting soon.

What an insurance company does when it gets to the second line of your application and determines that you are fat: Yep, it doesn't matter if your blood pressure is low, you're blood sugar is normal, or anything else. If you don't fit within their height/weight tables, you're not worth their time. You, my friend, deserve to get sick and die -- probably penniless after selling everything you own to try and get health care.

Okay, maybe that's too harsh. Maybe they don't think I deserve to die penniless. Truly, I don't think they've considered me in the equation at all. They simply think that they will lose money on me. I'm fat, therefore I must be unhealthy -- if not now, then soon -- and that means they'll have to pay money for claims. They don't want to do that. They just want premiums coming in.

After all, they're insuring profits for their stockholders and executives and board members. They have a corporate responsibility to those folks and giving me coverage could hurt their balance sheet down the line. They don't really care that if I get sick with something like strep throat, I may avoid seeing a doctor because I want to save money, which could lead to my getting pneumonia, which could lead to me being in the hospital, which I may not be able to afford, which would mean that the hospital would treat me but ultimately roll those costs into higher fees for other patients who do have insurance, which leads to less profits for the insurance company, which makes them raise everyone's rates higher so they can maintain their precious bottom line.

But hey, the insurance company wins no matter what and that's the important part, right?

Meanwhile, fat me will figure out a way to survive -- or not.

Ain't free enterprise great?

As it is, I'll be okay. I do have insurance. It's just crappy insurance with a $5,000 deductible and a high premium. It's better than nothing, though, and I'm happy to have it. As a self-employed, single person, it's what I can afford and what I can get (thanks to the group policy available with my membership in NASE). If something does happen that requires me to be in the hospital, this policy will keep me from going bankrupt. It won't keep me from being poor, but it may keep me from being destitute.

Hey, I can live (barely) with that.

So, if you're employed and you are offered health insurance, please don't complain about what it costs. It's a better deal than you can get on your own, trust me. And if you happen to be fat, it may be the only way you can get coverage -- or if you've ever had cancer or a myriad of other things that insurers decide make you too high a risk for them to cover.

And no, this isn't a political statement in support of one candidate or another and their stance on universal health care. But if you're interested in that sort of thing, so much the better. Do some research and come to your own conclusions. From where I'm sitting, a single-payer health care system sure seems to make sense.

Nothing's perfect. But somewhere in the system, it seems to me that the individual has been forgotten. Just to review. . . I'm fat. But I'm healthy -- healthier than some of my thin friends. I don't use a lot of health care, just the basics for annual checkups and occasional mishaps. But I doubt that the reviewer of my application knows anything about me other than the fact that I'm fat.

And if you have a chronic health problem and are out of work, it's an even worse situation, a Catch-22 disaster.

Oh, and before anyone says, "Well, why don't you just lose weight, you lazy slob?" please know this. in the course of my 50+ years on the planet, I've lost more weight than Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchey weigh, combined, on one of their "I'm bloated" days. The thing is, each time that I've lost them, they've found me again -- and brought friends. I was a fat baby, a fat four-year-old, on Weight Watchers at seven, on diet pills (prescribed by a fat doctor -- oh, the irony) when I was about ten, and so on. I've been BFF with Jenny Craig, Dr. Atkins, Dr. Tarnower (the Scarsdale Diet guy), and Dr. Phil. My shelves have been stocked with Nutrisystem -- until I gave it up for food that actually looked and tasted edible -- my freezer loaded with Lean Cuisine (still is -- that stuff's good). There's been cabbage soup, rice in abundance, protein until I wanted to mug a bread truck driver -- for the bread -- and fasting. There's been rigorous exercise and personal trainers, too.

And each time, I ended up fatter. When I stopped all that stuff (okay, not the Lean Cuisine -- didn't I cover that?), I maintained an even keel.

So don't preach to me about dieting. That's not what this is about. It's about being denied health insurance based on a chart rather than the state of my individual, overall health. Okay? Okay.

Rant is now officially over. I feel better now -- which is a good thing, because paying a doctor for an office visit isn't really in the budget right now.
And here's a little knitting content after all -- consider it a reward for making it this far!


maxine said...

It does suck. When I was between jobs, I had to get individual coverage. I landed with unicare bacause the premium seemed doable at 189 a month. I was honest in my completion of the health survey (never needed to be screened by an actual doc)that I received after paying my first premium. The next bill came and my premium was 319. WTF? No question it was my honesty that I weighed 280. ph#$%^*&%^ers!

Glad you at least have some coverage. I will be facing getting it independantly again in January.

Little Old Liz said...

Sittin' in the same boat, with a different paddle. The Hubster's Company was bought out by Scrooge McDuck. They chose Met Life for any additional life insurrance. Met Life will only insure Nichole and Paris. It doesn't seem to matter that I pay for the additional insurance, not Uncle Scrooge. Be honest and get hosed. Lie, and get hosed some more. It's a mad, strange world for us normal folk.

Trish Carr said...

I'm lucky to work for an employer, a school district, that provides decent enough health care. It's a great injustice, though, that access to medical care is a matter of luck. One of the issues I look for in a candidate is health care for all. It doesn't have to be luxury health care. Basic will do. Something like, say, Medicare. What's wrong with Medicare all around?

The Sick Chick said...

You're looking at the number one reason why I will probably never be able to live in the US again. (And I find single payer healthcare to be pretty good, I actually have better healthcare than money *could* buy in the US, and I don't have to pay for it! :) )

FiberQat said...

I took you up on your challenge and am stunned at what they expect people to pull out of their pocket for deductibles before they even start paying. I knew it was a racket but this just puts another nail in the coffin. "Sure you can pay $100 a month premium. Just don't expect us to pay until you've reached the $5000 deductible. And that's against the usual and customary charges, not retail. We don't count that."


Sharon said...

It isn't just the stockholders, execs and board members who profit. If you haven't seen Michael Moore's "Sicko", it's definitely worth watching. His insight into how this fouled up system got started may surprise you. Then again, us being the same age and graduating from high school during the Watergate hearings, it probably won't surprise you at all. :)

Suna said...

Just another sympathetic note. I had to use Unicare for 5 years, when I worked for a nonprofit organization and then when I was contracting, and recently when I was unemployed, and the premiums went up and up. They were about to go up again because I turned 50. I can't believe what I paid for crap insurance (same one you have, with that lovely $5K deductible).

I recently took quite a pay cut to get a job at a university. But they do provide insurance. I keep finding myself walking around and saying to myself, "I have insurance--I can't believe I have insurance." Of course, they won't let my fiance on until we are 100% officially married. I really didn't want to move my wedding up 6 months just for this...gosh, good thing I am not a lesbian--no coverage for partners in state jobs.

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