45,000 “dogs” will die from lack of insurance

According to a report on National Public Radio, 45,000 Americans will die this year because they have no insurance and cannot afford treatment.    In comparison, nearly 41,000 Americans (women and men) are projected to  die from breast cancer alone this year.  We don’t know how many of them will die because they have no insurance, but we can be relatively certain that some of them will not get the treatment they need because they cannot afford insurance or have been dropped by their carrier.

The conservative Washington Times recently reported the story of  Mr. Ian Pearl of New York who has multiple sclerosis and requires around the clock care.  Rather than terminate his policy, his carrier decided to cease to offer policies for medical conditions requiring such costly care.  

Guardian Life Insurance Company operates in several states and already terminated policies with provisions for treatment for such serious and life threatening conditions as MS.  Their rationale was that the policies were too expensive for businesses to purchase anyway.  A spokesman for Guardian was interviewed for the article and explained it as follows:

As a business, though, we have to offer plans that enough customers want,”  said Guardian spokesman Richard Jones. “But in this particular case the expense of the plan meant that most small businesses were not able or were not willing to purchase it. “

“This has been through the courts. Guardian’s activities were upheld by the courts as well as by the New York State Department of Insurance. ”

“We certainly don’t think this particular case has anything to do with health care reform,” Mr. Jones said.

Of COURSE you don’t think this has anything to do with health care reform because it is your industry that needs reforming. And this is exactly the reason reform cannot wait any longer.  

The article goes on to state that ” Guardian reported profits of $437 million last year, a 50 percent increase over $292 million in 2007.  The company’s investment income totaled $1.5 billion that year, a small increase from the year earlier.”

Ok, so, sorry Mr. Pearl, its not personal, its just good business.  But wait.  There’s more:

In an e-mail to four other Guardian executives entered into evidence in the Pearls’ suit, company Vice President Tim Birely discussed how the company could “eliminate this entire block to get rid of the few dogs.”

According to some executives at Guardian Life Insurance Company these are not people, these are dogs.  Whether they meant the seriously ill people were dogs, or the policies themselves were dogs, is not clear.  The memo wasn’t meant for public consumption.  But the point is these policy holders are dragging down the profits and deserve to be cut loose.  The insurance industry’s version of survival of the fittest.

Asked about the use of the phrases such as “get rid of” and “dogs,” Guardian spokesman Richard Jones said, “I’m not aware of any language related to any of the things that you just mentioned, no.”

Maybe in order to do your job, Mr. Jones, you must take a lesson from the tobacco industry and dehumanize your victims, sorry –  customers.  Because if its just good business that usually means it has nothing to do with humanity and everything to do with the bottom line. 

Here in Pittsburgh I will believe UPMC and Highmark are actually in trouble when they stop showing those incessant commercials telling us how much they care about us.  If they can still pay for the commercials, they’re doing just fine in my opinion. 

Before they raise our premiums and co-pays again next year, maybe they would consider taking 50 percent of those ads off the air and see if that doesn’t help the old bottom line. 

C’mon, toss us old doggies a bone, won’t ya?


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