I'm one of those people who got fucked by the health insurance industry. At the time, I was in my forties. I had a decent income. But it turns out I had a pre-existing condition, as defined by the healthcare peeps. It wasn't cancer. It wasn't diabetes. It wasn't MS, Parkinson's, or Lupus. It was my job.
When I was still working for a big ad agency, I went to see a counselor because the stress of my job was making me crazy. [Okay, crazier.]Coincidentally, a rep for a production house came in to screen a new director and we got to talking about health insurance. She said whatever you do, don't ever put in a claim for therapy sessions, because if you lose your job or go out on your own, you will be denied health insurance.
So I began to see a counselor about my crazy-making job, but paid for everything out of pocket. After leaving the agency, I applied for sole proprietor insurance. I was eligible for a good package with Prudential, $200 a month, only four times as much as I was paying when I was covered by group insurance, but manageable.
Around the same time I had a physical. During a conversation with the doc, as he's taking my blood pressure, hammering my knees, and thumping my back, I mention that I had been going to therapy sessions because my job had been causing me so many problems, but when I left, the problems went away, so, ta-da! I didn't need a therapist any more.
A few weeks later I get a call from the insurance company. "Are you still seeing a therapist?" Holy crap, how do they know that I even went to one? Because my doctor wrote down our conversation in my records. Which were sent to the insurance company when I applied for the new insurance. "Am I seeing a therapist? Not any more. But I paid for that out of my own pocket." "Well, we're still required to pay." "But you don't have to."
It didn't matter. I was denied insurance through Prudential because I had done what a lot of people are told to do -- I sought help for a stressful situation. Not schizophrenia. Not drug, alcohol or sex addiction. Or re-hab. Something temporary, that went away when the source of the stress was gone. Something I paid for by myself, hoping not to draw the attention of the healthcare companies, based on the warning I got. Something they didn't even have to cover, since I never filed for reimbursement.
Except my doc ratted me out -- inadvertently, he claimed -- and when I told him the disaster his allegedly innocuous notation on my record had caused, he was stunned.
Now the only sole proprietor insurance I could get that had reasonable coverage would cost me over $600 a month. Those dollars are from 20 years ago. I didn't have that kind of money. So I settled for such a high deductible that my insurance coverage didn't kick in until I had forked out enough for a new car. Not just the down payment for a new car; the whole car.
As a result I had to wait almost a decade before I could afford to get new hips through Medicare, our government run medical insurance plan. If the reform bill had been in place, I wouldn't have wasted ten years of my life wondering if I would ever walk right or feel normal again.
So thanks, Mr. President. Even though the reform bill is not perfect. It's a damn good start.