Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Penny wise, pound foolish

That truism can apply to so many corporate decisions, can't it? But when it comes to treating eating disorders, the truism becomes both literal and deadly.

Take the case of this Connecticut family, fighting for their insurance company to do the right thing and cover treatment of their 17-year-old daughter's anorexia. While insurance covered her previous treatment, her last admission was kicked out because of a treatment delay that triggered a "within 3 days" rule.

In fact, treatment delays are common and are usually--as in this case--the result of a shortage of beds or space in treatment programs. There's nothing a family can do to prevent them. To have coverage denied because of such a delay--a delay that can be lethal to the adolescent being treated--is both cruel and immoral.

Readers of this blog know how I feel about the health insurance industry: Any industry that profits from people's pain and suffering should be abolished. Until that day, the industry should be held accountable for decisions like this one, which risk lives and add suffering for families already dealing with the torments of an eating disorder.

The girl in question said it best: "If someone needs help, give it to them. Because people don't ask for help if they don't need it. Trust me."

This is especially poignant given the fact that so many people with anorexia cannot recognize that they're ill or ask for help.

Our former insurance company denied coverage for much of my daughter's treatment because we live in a state without mental health parity. (One more reason why I can't wait to move back to New York.) As we know, there are people whose entire work life consists of looking for reasons to deny people coverage. How do they sleep at night?

I hope folks from the company in question read this. And I hope they do the right thing. For once.

1 comment:

mary said...

What's amazing is that this isn't viewed as the child/human abuse that it is. We need something better for all of us.
My mom lives in Fl. and recently came across a parent with a child, of about 6yrs. old and with a broken arm This child was turned away at emergency rooms because of lack of insurance. They applied for state/federal aide but until it was processed they refused to treat the child, which they said would be a few days. Sick, huh? Where is our compassion? Why is the almighty dollar so important when someone is in need? Is there nothing left in the charities that would prevent this from happening or is all our fund raising so absurdly lop sided that we give millions to one family and nothing for basic needs? Especially for a person in pain as with someone who can not eat or keep food down without medical attention!
We all understand liability here in our country. We need something better, for sure. We may need less private own hospitals and more places that can not shut the door in our faces. This requires more thought than just wanting something as people deserve their salaries. We may have to build our own hospitals. We have to take the blinders off. I have gone through periods where we had no ins. and also no state health care. It sucks to be in the middle. What we may not need is share holders getting rich or poor as it has nothing to do with the basic business of running a hospital. Gambling ought to be left out of things of such importance, IMO.
They did recently FINALLY offer a free dental clinic here in Ct. and it's long over due. It was 2 days to begin and I pray they do it often even accepting donations to help keep it going. We so need this in our country right now. The very poor often have free health care but the bottom of the barrel worker often lacks ins. or money to afford the co pays. Something is very wrong with the whole system.
In Vt. my d's dentist, obviously an angel with a heart, just took care of her teeth for a honest fee, one which would have been quadrupled at our UCONN dental clinic. I am so thankful that there are people with integrity and I have faith that we'll figure this out. It just can't be soon enough.