I came across this article a few days ago, explaining how people with preexisting conditions can navigate the private insurance market and still get coverage. As I was reading, I became increasingly irritated and asked myself, why should people have to “apply” to get health care? As if receiving medical treatment is the same as requesting a home loan, applying for college or interviewing for a job.
Several years ago, I applied for an individual plan from a well-known southern California health insurer. The endless list of questions about what conditions I had ever sought treatment for – however minor – was absolutely dizzying. Of course, this is known as medical underwriting – the practice of snooping into your medical history for the express purpose of determining whether you are too high risk to warrant coverage. I got rejected simply for seeing a dermatologist for acne and a shrink for a bout of minor depression, among other minor conditions that don’t have a great impact on my life.
Honestly, of what business is it of any insurance company to delve into my medical history? That is information that should be shared strictly between me and my doctor(s). Taking insurance companies out of our healthcare system means getting rid of the complicated, unfair and absolutely unnecessary process of medical underwriting. I don’t think a corporation led by a group of people – who may or may not have medical expertise – should be dictating who gets the opportunity to seek future treatment for a medical condition. Health insurance companies are making these decisions everyday – often deciding who lives and who dies. That is morally wrong and a society that calls itself civilized shouldn’t allow such a situation. Everyone should have the right to seek treatment by virtue of the fact that we are human beings who need our health to survive.
Even if you get insurance coverage through your employer, you still have to fill out some sort of paperwork, which is an annoying annual employee ritual. Because you’re not being underwritten, they don’t ask you about your medical history, but they do ask you to choose among a confusing array of plans. Do you want HMO or PPO? In network? Out of network? You want dental and vision with that? Oh, that’ll cost extra out of your paycheck. Enough!
Taking care of your health shouldn’t feel like taking out a loan. In a single-payer, improved Medicare for All program, no application is needed. There is no public or private bureaucracy telling you you’re not worthy to seek medical care. There is no bouncer at the club door. The service is available to you from cradle to grave.