Saturday, January 26, 2008

Health insurance caps

It's bad enough that millions of Americans have no health insurance at all. But what happens if you have it but exceed your limit? The Washington Post explains:

A small but growing number of American families beset by major medical problems are learning the hard way that simply having health insurance is sometimes not enough.

Those who need organ transplants or who have hemophilia, Gaucher disease or other costly chronic illnesses can easily rack up medical bills that blow through the lifetime benefits cap of $1 million or more that is a standard part of many insurance policies.

That has left some very sick people facing health-care tabs of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, prompting their families to turn to the government for help or to scramble to change jobs or even divorce for no other reason than to qualify for new health insurance. And it has led some advocates for the chronically ill to plan a new lobbying effort to persuade Congress to require insurers to increase lifetime caps to as high as $10 million.

Statistics on how many people exceed the lifetime caps are hard to come by, but advocates note that the amount of many caps hasn't changed in decades, or at least has not kept up with health-care inflation and the sky-high cost of life-saving new therapies, making it more likely that people will reach the limit.

"I hear from a lot of families that know that they are coming close to their cap," said Rick Lofgren, president of the Children's Organ Transplant Association, a nonprofit in Bloomington, Ind., that helps raise money for kids who need transplants. "It does happen pretty regularly in transplant cases."

Click through and read the rest of the article for some really upsetting details.

You know what I'm going to say. This is just wrong. We all know it is. I want all those family values Republicans now to get out their Bibles and read Matthew 25. And then tell me how it's right for an insurance company to do this. OR how the oh-so-sacred "free market" will fix the problem.

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