Pundits and baggers alike are grieving over news stories about people losing their dearly beloved health insurance policies, which they had cherished through the years, and how some people may have to switch doctors even through they’d been paying out of pocket anyway, etc.
And they’re all acting as if this sort of thing just never happened before, but in fact it happened a lot.
Never mind the thousands of people who used to fall victim to “rescission” every year. That was the practice of dumping policy holders when their bills got too big — the following was written in 2009 —
In a nutshell â€” yesterday three big insurance company executives â€” WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. â€” told the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that their business models depended on being able to cancel the health insurance policies of customers who cost them too much money. An investigation by the Committee had found that over a five-year period, these companies had canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people in order to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims.
And never mind the one-in-seven Americans who were denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. Not being able to get insurance in the first place probably doesn’t count.
And of course if you changed jobs, by choice or not, that nearly always means getting a new insurance provider. I think people kind of accepted that and didn’t complain about it.
No, let’s talk about people who got insurance through their employers before Obamacare. Especially if you worked for a small- to medium-size company with one insurance provider, there was always a possibility that your employer would change to a different provider that offered a better deal. And that new insurer might not have your health care providers in its network. I’ve personally seen this happen a few times, so it cannot have been that unusual.
In the 1990s, when HMOs were the new new thing, I actually was not able to develop a relationship with a regular health care provider. My insurance got jerked around so much that every time I needed a doctor I had to start over with a new one. Fortunately my health care issues were relatively minor.
Others were not so fortunate. I remember about 1995 I was working for a small company with maybe 40 employees, and the employer changed to a new insurance company. One long-time employee, a woman, had a husband in cancer treatment. He was covered by her insurance. You guessed it — his doctors were not in the new network. I remember her breaking down in tears when she realized this. Her husband was forced to switch doctors. I repeat, this was in the mid-1990s. I don’t believe their story was in the Wall Street Journal.
After I moved in New York early in 2000 I found a primary care physician I like very much who is in everybody’s network. So even though I’ve been covered by five different policies these past 14 or so years, I haven’t had to switch doctors. And big corporations tend to offer menus of insurance plans by more than one company, and unless your regular doctor is a complete loser he’s probably in somebody’s plan, somewhere.
But the bottom line is that under the old system, millions of Americans must have been forced to switch doctors at one time or another, and nobody boo-hooed about it. All of a sudden, now it’s the most awful thing that could ever happen to anybody.
Give me a break.
Of course, part of what’s happening now — beside the tootsie in the Wall Street Journal who lied her ass off about her old policy — is that insurance companies are making a last-chance dump of less-than-profitable policy holders. And most of it is bringing policies up to code — see, for example, Obamacare â€œvictimâ€ now says loss of previous health plan may be â€œa blessing in disguiseâ€
I’m just calling bullshit on all the bobbleheads who are suddenly weepy about people losing their doctors. How come it never bothered you before?