Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dear Health Insurance Companies:

Y'all are afraid of competition from the government, eh?

I wonder how that could be.

Could it be because you won't sell your product to otherwise perfectly healthy individuals with only minor afflictions, even some childhood afflictions that they outgrew years ago?

Could it be because you will sell your product to a group, and then renege on the contract with the entire group? What? 8000 people isn't a large enough risk pool?

Could it be because you sell your product to an individual, but cancel them when they fall ill and need the coverage they've paid you for? And then reward your employees handsomely for it too.

Could it be because, instead of denying your customers coverage outright, you just drag the process out until they go away [downsized from their jobs, for example]?

Could it be because you're still trying to suck money out of your customers even after they die? [h/t]

Nah, can't be.

And yet, posses of your customers and former customers are forming against you, with blood in their eye and all manner of weapons to hand.

PS. Your brethren in the property and casualty business might want to go crawl back into their coffins too.


Anonymous said...

i have found insurance companies will do the right thing when you carefully and correctly inform them of their legal obligations, but they will pretend to have no legal obligations you do not inform them of, and few people presumably have or even know how to obtain the knowledge to inform them. moreover, they will use any legal loophole they can find to deny or drop coverage to unprofitable clients.

(of course, i have found most everyone will do the right thing when you carefully and correctly explain their legal obligations. funny, that.)

Steve Bates said...

"i have found insurance companies will do the right thing when you carefully and correctly inform them of their legal obligations..." - michael

michael, forgive me for saying so, but that is crap. An insurance industry that supports an entire cottage industry called "denial management" is an industry that intends from the outset to behave dishonestly. A lot of their loopholes are not legal. A lot of their behaviors are exactly as hipparchia describes. I believe you've mentioned before having some medical problems; see how those same insurance companies treat you as you age... if indeed they continue to insure you. Good luck.

hipparchia said...

(of course, i have found most everyone will do the right thing when you carefully and correctly explain their legal obligations. funny, that.)

funny, indeed. i've found that to be true too.

i used to not care one way or the other about lawyers, as a group, and i even enjoyed repeating all those awful lawyer jokes, but in recent years, i've come to appreciate them and the fact that when i need one, i can hire an advocate who will explain, with a few more teeth than i can bring to bear, these pesky little obligations to some of these people.

hipparchia said...

i dunno, steve, unlike you and me, michael belongs to one of the few remaining non-profit HMOs, iirc. they too are starting to adopt the tactics of the for-profit insurance industry, but not quite as aggressively. yet.

Anonymous said...

The jumps in health care costs are almost all related to insurance, rather than real health care.

The corporations want to make as much money as possible, rather than as is legally allowed, and they don't care about policy holders, only share holders.

hipparchia said...

bunch of blood-sucking robber barons.

i considered using a picture of leeches, instead of lestat for this post, but there's some evidence that the medical use of leeches is actually sometimes efficacious.

i suppose there are also times when the medical use of for-profit insurance is sometimes efficacious too, but i didn't want to give the leeches a bad name by comparing them to the insurers.

Steve Bates said...

hipparchia, I know; there are people around (apparently Michael is one of them) who have sweet deals, or at least reasonable deals, through some quirk of circumstance, some institution overlooked by the insurance industry in its mutation from "for profit" to "for taking every goddamn cent its customers have and then stiffing them." Forgive me if I'm uninterested in advice from the exceptions; I have to deal with the rule.

hipparchia said...

i certainly understand your very forgivable frustration and ire with the insurance industry. i've got loads of empathy for everybody caught up in their tentacles.

i took michael's remark to be not advice so much as it is a bald statement of fact [two facts, actually]: only by wielding a big stick [threats of legal retribution] can you get these people to honor their obligations, and not very many of us have [or know how to get] these big sticks.

how many sick people have the time, energy, knowledge, and money to fight back? damned few.

and like he implies in his parenthetical statement, this problem isn't necessarily limited to the insurance industry.

andante said...

And how many have the MONEY to fight back? If you already owe thousands of dollars in medical bills, it' a real crap shoot hiring legal representation.

Gawd, I hope my kid marries an obliging lawyer. Or a doctor.

hipparchia said...

or moves to canada. or france.

i agree with you about the difficulties of hiring legal representation, andante. most of us can be absolutely drowning in medical debt, but the sums involved will still look paltry to the legal community.

i've had some success in the past with paying a lawyer a small fee to write threatening letters, or to let me write threatening letters ending in ... and if you have any further questions please contact my lawyer at ____________.

but, like you say, it's still a crap shoot.