LiberalValues has a detailed and informative post about How the Current Health Insurance System Leaves Millions Behind. It is a must read, especially for anyone who is faced with trying to get health insurance when they have a pre-existing condition such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
This situation is serious enough for Americans under the current system, but there's one more angle that is equally frightening for patients. What about the people who have coverage but are lopped off at the knees when they need certain tests or treatment?
A few years ago I wrote a column about this very thing and this is what I found (with minor editing):
-- Doctors approved a bone marrow transplant for a patient with breast cancer. Her insurance company refused to cover the treatment. Subsequently the lady died.
-- A woman spent three months asking her insurance company to refer her to a specialist due to rectal bleeding and abdominal pain. She finally won the referral and was diagnosed with colon cancer but it was too late for her. She died. She wasn't referred to a specialist early on because "it's rare for a woman of that age to have colon cancer."
-- A North Carolina couple was granted treatment for their three-month-old daughter who had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. The hitch: they had to take her to a regional treatment center outside the state, subsequently losing their jobs, home and savings.
I'd like to think that with health care reform we wouldn't be faced with such horrific stories and irresponsible care. Please see the following for further reading:
Litigation and Trial: Hospital Sues Health Insurance Company for Cheating Patients Out of Emergency Care
MSNBC: Health Insurance Caps Leave Patients Stranded
CNN: Cancer Patient Tells of Rips In Health Insurance Safety Net