Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Discouraged? You betcha.

This will probably be a downer kind of post. It might wrap up on a high note, but the way I feel right now – probably not.

When I applied for private health insurance almost a year ago, I was taking an antidepressant, which increased my premium significantly. One of the side effects of it was decreased appetite, and I liked that. Another side effect was a rash, and I didn't like that at all. I stopped taking it for six weeks to let the rash clear up, and when I started it again the rash came back but it didn't affect my appetite. My husband, who is a psychiatrist, says that sometimes happens: A side effect may be present upon initial dosing, but it will clear up or go away later. I quit taking it at that time.

In order to reduce my premium, I had to document that I had been off the antidepressant for six months. My doctor insisted on seeing me in his office (which meant paying for an office visit – my insurance doesn't cover office visits), signed a letter saying that yes, I had been off the pills for six months, and I applied for a rate reduction.

Well the records which I was required to send to the insurance company included – of course – my weight. And since I'm obese, my premium had to stay the same. Didn't matter to them that I'm otherwise healthy or that I run long distances or that my lab values all fall into the perfect or better-than-perfect category (including my TSH, darn it). The only thing I can do to reduce the premium is to reduce my weight.

Well, y'all know I try. And try. AND TRY. There is something about this body of mine that just won't release weight in any significant amount, no matter how many miles I log, no matter how few calories I eat, no matter what combination of foods I ingest, no matter what.

Yesterday I got a letter from the insurance company saying that because of rising healthcare costs, new medical tests and higher drug prices, they were raising premiums for all their policyholders. My rate increase comes out to 15 percent.

I know it's a good idea to lose weight, but if or when it happens my premium will still be higher than it was when I first applied and was accepted. I suppose I should be thanking my lucky stars that I was accepted. It's the insurance company's job to deny, deny, deny – both applicants and claims.

My Senator, Jay Rockefeller, has introduced a bill that would allow early entry into Medicare for those aged 55 to 64, and would eventually enroll every child in the United States into a program called MediKids. I called his office yesterday to thank him for his forward thinking. It would be great for me if that bill passes, but I have little hope. I think introducing bills in the Senate makes individual Senators look good whether the bills pass or not.

The bottom line, though, is that we need Medicare for everyone. The 19- to 54-year-olds out there need to go to the doctor, too. The Senate Finance Committee meets this morning at 10 a.m. to discuss healthcare reform. Not a single representative for single-payer healthcare has been invited to the table. Max Baucus (D-MT) has been quoted as saying, regarding single-payer, "I'm not going to waste my time."

So yes, I'm discouraged this morning, for myself and for my country. Fixing healthcare would fix so very many economic problems in this country. I guarantee I would not hoard my insurance premium if some of it were in my pocket instead of in Aetna's.

Do you support single-payer? If so, please contact Senator Baucus at (you can call the Finance Committee office at 202-224-4515) and let him know. He's under the illusion that single-payer is not possible under the current political climate. I think it's more possible than ever. Also, contact your congressmen and women and ask them to support HR676. Do it today. Please.

1 comment:

Marla said...

I totally share your frustration with the insurance rates. My insurance premiums are 40% higher than my husband's because of my weight! I am completely healthy, I have no medical conditions or diseases, I don't smoke, I have a good family history, etc. There is more to health than any one factor. Unfortunately, the insurance companies go on statistics, which don't account for individual variances. And I don't particularly want them genetically testing me either, to prove that I'm a good risk.

There's something wrong here...