Friday, October 1, 2010

Health Insurance Outrage

Like the logo?  It is incredibly cynical, considering the reality of United Healthcare's behavior.  

Like too many other American families, though both were employed full time at good jobs, my son and daughter-in-law did not have have health insurance for a long time.  My daughter-in-law changed jobs and with the new employer, at last, came health care coverage.  What a relief!  Though everyone had been amazingly healthy while they were uninsured, it was comforting to know they had coverage if they needed it. 

A few weeks after the coverage with United Healthcare took effect, they noticed a lesion on 4-year-old Emma Alice's scalp and discovered that the lymph nodes on her neck were swollen.  Neither of these things is particularly scary -- there are many reasons for either thing to occur and kids' lymph nodes often swell up for very minor reasons, but they made an appointment with a pediatrician, and it was discovered that Emma had ALL, a common form of childhood leukemia.  I remember that my shock and sadness at the diagnosis was tempered slightly by knowing that at least they now had health insurance and she could get good care! 

Thanks to their good and observant parenting, they actually caught the leukemia so early that her original blood work was completely normal.  The ALL was at the very earliest stage, and she immediately began an aggressive treatment regimen at the wonderful Children's Hospital of Orange County in southern California.  After two weeks, her lab work showed that the leukemia was already in remission.  Her prognosis is excellent.  Seven months later, she is now completing the last intensive phase of her chemotherapy and will soon go on maintenance.  She has been a trouper through it all: lost hair, painfully bad reaction to a chemo drug, having to sit out kindergarten with a home tutor, times in isolation at home when her blood counts were very low, and all the other discomforts and indignities of being a kid with a serious illness.  None of this should ever happen to any kid, let alone a 4-year-old warrior princess. 

Today, my son and daughter-in-law got the news that United Healthcare, their insurance company, has decided not only NOT to cover Emma Alice's medical bills prior to the day federal law prevents them doing this,  but to demand the doctors and hospital return the fees they have already been paid!!!  They say Emma is being treated for a "preexisting condition."  I guess they think "preexisting" means having begun before Emma originally saw the pediatrician.  Doesn't every illness begin before we seek treatment for it?  By that definition, they could refuse to pay for any and all medical services. You would have to be clairvoyant and go to a doctor for an illness you might get in the future, before you had any symptoms at all.

United Heathcare is the villain in this case.  The company itself is a big, soulless entity, but the employees who carry out its policies are presumably humans with beating hearts.  I wonder what kind of bonus the pencil pusher who made this decision got for cutting off coverage for the care for a now 5-year-old leukemia patient?  I hope it was worth it.  I also hope his or her child never gets leukemia -- especially if their insurance is with United Healthcare.

Judge Judy always says that people better be careful because the bad stuff they do is going to come back and seriously bite them or someone near and dear to them in the butt.  There is the law of three in witchcraft that states whatever you do to others will return to you times three.  I wish I believed in these maxims, but I'm afraid it's just wishful thinking.  The bad guys nearly always get away with it, and make out like the bandits they are. 

What I would really like is for people to bombard United Healthcare with phone calls and emails and letters protesting what they have done to Emma Alice Marchesi and her mother and father and her brother Nate.  It is, I think, a criminal act, what they have done.  It may be marginally legal in whatever slimy universe they inhabit, but it is morally incomprehensible and evil beyond belief.  I also wish the media would pick it up and investigate this, not only for Emma, but for the thousands of other little girls and boys who have had their insurance cut off for similarly crooked  reasons.  I started to say unfathomable reasons, but it seems perfectly clear that the reason is the enrichment of the executives and shareholders of United Healthcare. 

I really, really hope Judge Judy is right.

Contact information: 
Web site:
(note-- it is nearly impossible to contact them through this website, so far as I can see)

United Healthcare Corporate Headquarters 
5901 Lincoln Dr 
Minneapolis, MN 55436 

United Healthcare Customer Service
California - Customer Service
Toll Free Phone: 800-357-0978

photo credit: Google images

No comments:

Post a Comment