Monday, May 4, 2009

Life With a Pre-Existing Condition

As I'm sure most of you already know just how out of whack the US Health Care System is. I'm also sure you've heard that having Celiac Disease (or numerous of it's related conditions) qualifies you for having a dreaded "Pre-existing Condition". Of course, that term can be interchanged freely with "Not able to get Health Insurance". Pre-existing conditions are becoming more of a problem now with the current economic situtation. As folks lose their jobs, they make an attempt to go buy their own health insurance. They of course will have a hard time.

If you are unaware of these facts, please check out this article from the Miami Herald which was published last month. The article, entitled "Insurers shun those taking certain meds" goes into pretty great detail about the lengths American Insurance Companies go to make sure they do not actually insure sick people - their costliest customers. The article explains how these companies follow guides called "Guide to Medical Underwriting" to deny people insurance who need it the most. These guides contain a huge list of diseases and prescription medications that will result in denial of coverage. Of course, Celiac Disease can be found in most of them.

I understand that these companies are in businesses to make money and believe they should be entitled to do so - but healthy people don't need insurance until they get sick. It might make a little more sense if the focus was on preventative care but that isn't the case either. Anyone out there who spent 10 years getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease can tell you that. The problem with Celiac Disease is that the majority of the time health care costs actually go way down after diagnosis. Simply follow the Gluten Free Diet and you'll stay healthy (depending on how long it took you to get diagnosed). So why is Celiac Disease a pre-existing condition? Makes no sense to me. There is actually an incentive to not get an actual Celiac Disease diagnosis.

Nationalized Health Care can't be the answer either, right? I mean come on, if the government operates the system it would have to be worse, no? Take a look at how long it is taking the FDA to come up with a decision on how to label and enforce Gluten Free foods. Do I have to mention what they've done with other systems they operation (Social Security, Medicare, etc...).

Feel free to leave your thoughts/comments below about this topic.


mb said...

Hi Zach,
Great topic and keep up the good work. I'm sure you've seen some of the comments on Emily's posts a week or two ago. My thoughts on this are here and here.

Emily said...

Thanks for posting this, Zach. I think it's hard not to have some emotions about this. We are doing everything right, and we're all going to end up either spending all our money on insurance, or finding ourselves without it and...oh I hate to even think about it...

I know there are arguments that regulation can restrict our freedom to do business...but is there any kind of oversight whatsoever of these insurance companies and their clandestine blacklists? I've never heard of any.

So would it really be so wrong to have some? Could it be the same idea as having oversight of basic human services, like safe food and water supply--the FDA oversees that our food supply is supposed to not kill us (and when the peanut plant with the salmonella was in violation, they had to take some responsibility).

Better stop there before I lose my health insurance...

Thanks again, Zach.

NFCA said...

Very informative post Zach. And great point Emily. The insurance companies seem to be well protected but what about those who need the insurance? Not an easy problem to solve but one that is worth the effort to do so. Fortunately, the celiac community has such involved members such as your self and your readers to bring attention to this subject.

Emily said...

how can we do more to spread the word about it? (see my post about working to inform health care providers)

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