The Corpus Callosum

The SEIU website makes an href="http://www.seiu.org/2009/09/domestic-violence-victims-have-a-pre-existing-condition.php">astonishing
claim:

But, in DC and nine other states, including Arkansas,
Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South
Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming, insurance companies have gone too
far, claiming that “domestic violence victim” is also a pre-existing
condition.

Words cannot describe the sheer inhumanity of this claim. It serves as
yet further proof that our insurance system is broken, destroyed by the
profit-mongering of the very companies who’s sole purpose should be to
provide Americans with access to care when they need it most.

This seems too evil to even be true.  So I tracked down the
references.  After all, I want the debate to be honest.  Even
if there are assertions that support the conclusion I prefer, I want
those assertions to be true.  There is enough misinformation
flying around on one side of the debate.  The last thing we need
is for both sides to be spreading lies.


SEIU does not provide a link to anything that supports the claim
directly.  They do, however, link to a US Dept. of Health and
Human Services page, href="http://ruralhealth.hrsa.gov/pub/domviol.htm">Rural Health
Response to Domestic Violence: Policy and Practice Issues. 
This is worth reading, or at least skimming, if you are at all
interested in the topic of domestic violence.  But is does not
provide direct evidence to substantiate the claim.  They also link
to a href="http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/Sources/index.html#_edn8">Healthreform.gov
site, which has a citation for a publication be the National Women’s
Law Center, Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance
Market Fails Women, 2008
.  They don’t provide a link, but it
is easy to find.  The report (a PDF file) is href="http://nwlc.org/reformmatters/NWLCReport-NowhereToTurn-WEB.pdf">here.

The NWLC report does not say that health insurance companies
consider domestic violence to be a pre-existing condition.  What
it says is this:

Insurance companies can reject applicants for health
coverage for a variety of reasons that are particularly relevant to
women. For example, it is still legal in nine states and D.C. for
insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence.
Insurers can also reject women for coverage simply for having
previously had a Cesarean section (C-section).

So it is not quite as SEIU says, in that they do not literally consider
domestic violence to be a pre-existing condition.  But in some
cases, they will not provide coverage to individuals who have been
victims of domestic violence.  I’m not sure that this rises to the
level of “sheer inhumanity,” but is evil.  The NWLC report
provides numerous other examples of this kind of evil, most of it
pertaining specifically to women. 

This kind of thing is important to notice.  It shows us what we
are dealing with, when we try to engage in reasoned discourse.  We
cannot assume that health insurance companies will generally do the
right thing.  We cannot assume that they will shape up, once they
are called to account.  No, they will no do those things.

What they will do, is to continuously seek out and exploit loopholes,
subvert governmental and regulatory bodies, and otherwise game the
system.  We can enact reforms to close the loopholes, we can elect
officials who won’t be subverted, and we can bring an end to each
tactic they use to game the system.  But this will be a
neverending cycle of reacting to problems after they occur.

Not only that, but the health insurance landscape is changing
rapidly.  So we find a way to insure 30 million of the ~47 million
who do not have insurance, this year.  But that 47 million figure
could double in the next few years.  Even though we thought we
were getting ahead, we’d find ourselves further behind.  Do we
really want to go through this agonizing reform process again, in a few
years?  No, we do not.  The debate has been good for
lobbyists, bad for everyone else. 

This illustrates why incremental, partial reforms are not going to
work. 

Comments

  1. #1 red rabbit
    September 14, 2009

    It is pretty evil.

    They do have an unfortunate point. Women who get into relationships where domestic violence occurs tend to repeat that cycle.

    What a mess.

    If someone assaults another person in the US, is the perpetrator made to pay for the person’s medical care?

  2. #2 Pierce R. Butler
    September 14, 2009

    … it is still legal in nine states and D.C. for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence.

    So if a woman (or, presumably, a man) reports (or is reported by others) to have been assaulted by a partner, insurance companies in Arkansas, DC, Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming can tell her (or him) to take a permanent hike?!? Or do these states require a conviction? What about someone who was subjected to abuse as a child – do they go uninsured for life too? Does a report of abuse suffice to cancel existing coverage?

    IIRC, all those states (& District) have above-average levels of reported domestic violence. And most of them have a strong history of claiming “states’ rights” – just imagine Joe Wilson’s vociferous ire if anyone introduced a bill in Congress to interfere with such sovereign policies…

  3. #3 Pierce R. Butler
    September 14, 2009

    red rabbit @ # 1: If someone assaults another person in the US, is the perpetrator made to pay for the person’s medical care?

    That happens sometimes, but usually only after prolonged and expensive litigation in court. In many cases, it’s the perp’s insurance company which pays – which explains why the litigation is so hard-fought, why only some perps are pursued for medical costs, and (a small part of) why insurance is so expensive in this country.

  4. #4 D. C. Sessions
    September 14, 2009

    If someone assaults another person in the US, is the perpetrator made to pay for the person’s medical care?

    In theory, the victim could sue the perpetrator for medical costs, and if the plaintiff prevails, the Court would order the defendant to pay them. Assuming that the defendant actually had the money and assuming that there was anything left after the lawyers were paid, the victim might then receive partial compensation for the medical expenses.

    You can get an idea of how viable this strategy is by the frequency of lawsuits by insurance companies (who get bargains on legal expenses) against defendants who have assaulted policyholders.

  5. #5 Martin
    September 14, 2009

    This angers me, but it doesn’t surprise me. Remember, some local governments used to (in effect) punish victims of domestic violence by evicting ALL residents of a public housing unit (e.g., and apartment) if ANY resident(s) was convicted of a crime. So if a battered woman brought charges against her abuser and he was convicted, SHE could be evicted.

  6. #6 Fizzy
    September 14, 2009

    Are there any statistics available on how often women in these areas are actually denied coverage because of previous domestic assaults? In principle, there’s nothing requiring insurance companies to deny coverage, right? So are there some companies or states that are more guilty or are they all universally doing anything they can get away with?

  7. #7 tyomach
    September 15, 2009

    Isn’t there a difference between “It is legal” and “Coverage has been denied”?

  8. #8 Luna_the_cat
    September 15, 2009

    tyomach: yes, there is a difference; however, from experience, the question of “is it legal” only becomes documented once someone has done it.

  9. #9 Joseph j7uy5
    September 15, 2009

    IF you are asking if it has ever happened, the answer is yes. It was mentioned in congressional testimony that is linked in some of the things that I linked to.

  10. #10 Raka
    September 17, 2009

    Pierce R Butler: “In many cases, it’s the perp’s insurance company which pays…

    Wait, what? There’s “committing a crime” insurance? I know Geico offers liability, theft, and glass policies; the “assault” option is new to me. And I’m pretty sure my homeowner’s insurance only pays out if someone falls down my stairs, not if I shove them. What have I been missing out on?

  11. #11 joryhdert
    April 16, 2011

    DOĞAL YAŞAMIN SIRRI bitkisel organik sarayı ürünü Complex 41 solüsyon ve Bitkisel Şampuan ile Saç problemine yardımcı

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!