Sunday, January 24, 2010
Senate health insurance reform bill is a “bait and switch” scam
by Larry Geller
Should Congress pass some form of the House or Senate health insurance reform legislation, or is it actually a danger to our health?
Check out this story, which may help you decide: Whistleblower reveals how insurers can game healthcare bill (The Raw Story, 1/25/2010). For example, we were told that pre-exiting conditions could no longer prevent someone from being insured. Well, yes, but…
Though Senate bill cuts 'pre-existing conditions,' it still allows insurance companies to create 'pre-existing' categories to raise rates
The Democrats' healthcare overhaul, billed as a monumental game-changer for Americans' health insurance coverage, provides numerous loopholes for health insurance companies which will allow them to raise rates to protect profit margins, a health insurance whistleblower says.
While prohibitions on such practices as denying healthcare to people with pre-existing conditions remain in the legislation, [whistleblower Wendell] Potter noted that the Senate bill, in particular, provides the insurance companies with “all the flexibility they need” to more than make up for any profits lost due to new reform measures and to prevent people from accessing coverage.
He pointed out, for example, that “health factors” such as chronic diseases and age would continue to play into how much individuals can be charged in premiums and how many of them may be forced into high deductible plans.
“What they will be doing, what they can in the Senate bill, is charge people significantly more if they have certain health factors,” Potter said. “And it would be pretty much up to the industry to decide what those health factors are. You could have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes. You could be overweight, have a history of tobacco use. There definitely would be a wide range of things that the insurance industry would be able to look at and determine whether or not to charge you more.”
What happens is that when someone needs to access the coverage, already very expensive, the high deductibles and copayments force the patient into bankruptcy.
“What worries me,” [Potter] said, “is people who are forced to buy coverage and all they can afford to buy is a high deductible. And if they get really sick then they have to pay so much out of their own pockets that they’re going to be filing for bankruptcy and losing their homes.”
Where is the “bait and switch?”
Wendell Potter, a twenty-year veteran of the insurance industry and former vice president of communications for Cigna, warns that current healthcare legislation does nothing to prevent the insurance industry from continuing its ongoing practice of increasingly shifting healthcare costs to consumers.
A form of bait-and-switch, such practices often set up individuals, families and small businesses for inadequate or unaffordable access and a continued looming threat of financial ruin. The overlooked element, Potter says, is that insurance companies will be able to claim they are reducing premiums by forcing more Americans to pay higher deductibles and offering less coverage.
Did your Congressperson tell you that this reform is a good thing? Guess what—they lied to you.
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