2009-06-10 The Health Insurance Mafia Deserves a Good Screwing

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Coupled with my wife's back surgery from the middle 1990s, though, there are currently two fairly serious preexisting conditions on our family medical records, and so now whenever I shop for health insurance, I'm either turned down or quoted a premium that amounts to a request for voluntary financial rape. There are an array of other craptastical tricks and awfulness dished out by the insurers, but those are the most common walls I run into.

My only other option is to abandon my career and take a job that provides health insurance. As happy as that might make some comment trolls, I'm not in a position to do that either. But even if I did, there aren't any guarantees that the insurer wouldn't deny coverage that I paid for, along with a mélange of various other screwings the health insurance industry routinely gets away with.

This story isn't unusual, unfortunately, though I doubt other stories too often involve ricocheting off of a moving vehicle onto hard pavement with nothing but a helmet and garish road cycling regalia to break the fall.

So needless to say, I'm anxiously anticipating the public health insurance option -- as long as it's not crapped up with triggers or trap doors.

Actually, "anticipating" doesn't suffice to define my mood right now. I need it. My family needs it. Because the private health insurance companies have essentially told me that either they want all of my money, or nothing. And if I were to acquiesce to their thievery, I could once again count on premiums randomly being jacked up and, as so many Americans have experienced, coverage being outright denied, all for the sake of profit margins, stock quotes and obscene executive salaries.

A government healthcare plan, on the other hand, would be specifically tailored for stories like mine, and it's my only real chance of having health insurance anytime soon.

In addition to putting the "insurance" back into "health insurance," the public plan would force the private insurers to figure out how to compete -- or face bankruptcy. How excellent would that be for a change? The health insurance companies under financial pressure brought on by a competitive entity that we own.

Honestly, I hope they choke on it. I can think of no other American industry that more closely resembles a criminal shakedown of the public than the health insurers.

Even calling it "insurance" is a sick joke. Insurance implies a guarantee, and no matter what we pay, there are never any guarantees. I propose replacing the word "insurance" with the word "maybe?" -- including the question mark -- as in "health maybe?" Maybe they'll pay when we get sick. Maybe they won't randomly hike our monthly premium by 30 percent. Maybe they'll cover our preexisting conditions without gouging us -- that is if they agree to cover us at all. Maybe they won't let our family members die after refusing coverage.