Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mr. Pre-Existing Condition

“Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.”

-- (routinely attributed to) Otto von Bismarck

This familiar formulation almost certainly did not really originate with the Iron Chancellor; which has no bearing on its acuity. It should come as no surprise that I have been closely following the ongoing health care reform-related action in Washington. I have probably spent more time watching Congressional committee hearings on C-SPAN (or reading about them later) in the past couple of months than in the entire preceding period of my life. It has not been a particularly uplifting experience, although likely somewhat less distasteful than watching the sausage-making process would have been.

For personal reasons (and indeed frankly selfish ones), the subject of “pre-existing conditions” has been of particular interest to me. In many respects I am now a poster child for the problem. For the foreseeable future, and possibly up to the moment of my demise, I will require quite a few expensive medical services. Even if my cancer can be chased into apparently complete remission, I will have to be constantly tested and retested for signs that it has become reactivated; and in the event that happens, I would have to begin the costly therapeutic dance once again. No private medical insurance concern will want to have anything to do with me, unless forced to do so.

And forcing them to do so seems to be a feature of every piece of legislation now under consideration, as near as I can make out. That’s good news for me; but perhaps less so for the rest of you. Assuming that pre-existing conditions would also not be permitted to affect an individual’s premiums (wouldn’t they?), then premiums in general would have to be higher than they otherwise would be, to cover the higher costs incurred. The chronically healthy would be obliged to subsidize the chronically ill. If that comports with your notions of social justice in the matter of who should pay for my insatiable consumption of health care services, then thank you very much.

But before taking up your pen to sign those checks, it would perhaps be wise to become better acquainted with the number of digits to the left of the decimal point.

From the very beginning of my illness up to now, almost everything that has been done to/for me has been covered by my insurance plan. That’s because the hospital, the labs, and all the doctors have been “in-network” with respect to that plan. So, aside from the co-pays and the few non-covered items that I have chosen to purchase, the insurance company has paid for everything related to my treatment. In an upcoming post, I will take a look at some of the numbers involved, so that it becomes clearer what that means, in a case such as mine.

No comments:

Post a Comment