Monday, March 16, 2009

Health-Care Cover Story from Time

Really good (and depressing) story titled "The Health-Care Crisis Hits Home" from the March 16 issue of Time Magazine.

Written by regular contributor Karen Tumulty, the story details the insurance troubles her brother has gone through after having a major medical condition. Being self-insured, Pat Tumulty would regularly buy six month policies... which was all well and good as long as he simply paid the premiums and never needed the insurance. After getting sick and filing a claim, he was proclaimed not covered because of his illness being a "pre-existing condition", even though it was the same Assurant Health company that covered him six months prior.

This is a terrible story about (I don't think it stretches to say) a terrible company, but the piece goes much further than one bad business and looks at health-care in the U.S., particularly for those underinsured like Pat Tumulty. Cited in the article was a 2005 Harvard study that looked at 1,700 personal bankruptcies declared and found that half of them were due to a medical problem... with three quarters of those people actually covered under some form of health insurance. The problem that occurs is for those who do work and do have coverage, those policies often wind up not amounting to much, but the income and coverage makes people not eligible for federal or state health coverage programs.

It's a big mess, with the biggest shame being people dealing with serious illness while at the same time trying to figure out how to pay to treat it.