9.17.2009

Dealing with insurance companies makes death look appealing...

I just read a story that made me fuming mad. I've been angry about the disparity between physical and mental health insurance coverage before. But what I read made me hit the roof.

A story online at ABCNews.com describes the struggles of 17-year-old Emily Gomez, who suffers from a severe eating disorder. At one point, her doctor said that her parents had to get her help or she'd die. So they got her treatment at a center that specializes in the disorder.

Written in the fine print of their Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, however, is a notice that the policy caps coverages for mental illnesses at $2,000. Because eating disorders are considered a mental illness, the insurance company refused to pay anymore than that. Even though the treatment cost the Gomez family more than $50,000.

It cost me well over $5,000 to give birth. My company paid that, not many questions asked. But people who are dying, who contemplate suicide, who stop eating, who have serious need, aren't worth anymore than 2 grand? Really??

The utterly sickening part of this story was the bit from the insurance company's medical director, who noted that while the insurance company would not pay for eating disorder treatment...it would pay for complications that might arise because of an eating disorder -- like a heart condition that might develop.

He goes on to say that if someone has depression and attempts suicide and ends up in the hospital -- well, the company would pay for that.

Am I the only person here who finds this ironic bureaucratic freakishness appalling?!

A couple years ago, my insurance stopped paying copays on visits to the psychiatric clinic because I'd met my max for the year. Sorry. Not allowed to have bipolar disorder anymore this year. Come back in January. Until then, you're on your own. Unless you want to slit your wrists. If you do that, we'll pay to stitch you up. Maybe give you a blood transfusion. No discussions of psych meds though, and certainly not any cognitive therapy. Wouldn't want to prevent you from trying to kill yourself in the first place...

Ludicrous.

I don't care WHAT kind of universal health care coverage legislation gets created. It'd better take care of slimy legal loopholes like this.