Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

June 12th, 2012 1:00 PM

Health Insurance Fine Print Still Written in Blood

With great fanfare this week, the Washington Post reports that United Healthcare plans to keep key consumer provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act no matter what the Supreme Court rules about the individual insurance purchase mandate.

From the June 10th WP article: “Officials at United Healthcare will announce Monday that whatever the outcome of the court decision — expected this month — the company will continue to provide customers preventive health-care services without co-payments or other out-of-pocket charges, allow parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their plans, and maintain the more streamlined appeals process required by the law.

United Healthcare would also continue to observe the law’s prohibitions on putting lifetime limits on insurance payouts and rescinding coverage after a member becomes ill, except in cases where a member intentionally lied on an insurance application. 

It sounds so, well, friendly and reasonable, doesn’t it?  But read it again and then I want to tell you what that really says to America’s patients and to United Healthcare’s policyholders.

Even as United Healthcare’s announcement started making the national news, some of its policyholders were seeing the realities of the fine print.  And those realities of the for-profit healthcare business are written in the blood of our children.

I have known Nathan Wilkes of Colorado and his family for a little more than five years now.  I read about the family first in the newspaper and even took that article with me to Cuba as I was so angry that a story about Anna Nicole Smith’s body transport made the front page of the paper while a healthcare horror story was deep inside.    I didn’t meet Nathan in person until we were both on the capitol steps in Denver as I introduced Michael Moore before SiCKO premiered in 2007, and Nathan spoke about the trauma his own young family faces as they try to make sure his son, Thomas, has access to the care he needs for his hemophilia.  As you might imagine, it has been a struggle. 

Nathan is a brilliant and hard-working young man who started his own company and secured healthcare coverage through that company after exhausting many other avenues for keeping his family covered for care.  He knows the agony not only of watching his insurance costs soar but also those of the companies for whom he has worked and other families who had to be covered under plans that also included the Wilkes family.  The insurance he eventually secured was through United Healthcare.

Nathan and I saw each other again through the years as he would travel to DC to advocate for those with hemophilia and as we both advocated for a transformed healthcare system under a single-payer model.  Once some time ago when I was asked who I thought might have faced bumping up against lifetime caps on insurance coverage and who could do a nice job introducing President Obama as he visited the Western slope of Colorado during the height of the health reform debates in Congress in 2009, Nathan immediately came to mind and he did a fine job.

But just because I have had the honor of working with Michael Moore and Nathan has had the honor of meeting and introducing President Obama doesn’t mean we both don’t continue to share the bond of continuing to confront brutal realities at the hands of our for-profit insurance companies.

Just this week as now 8-year-old Thomas was facing a health crisis and the Wilkes family was dealing with that crisis, Nathan got a letter from his insurance carrier, United Healthcare.  It told him that the insurance giant was auditing the company’s coverage and required additional documentations (tax forms, income statements, etc) and that unless the documents were provided and found satisfactory, the business’ insurance coverage would be terminated July 1, 2012.  While that was awful enough, Nathan then began hearing from the family’s medical providers that United Healthcare went to all Thomas’ healthcare providers and informed those providers that the family’s coverage would be cancelled on July 1. 

Imagine that.  Your child is hospitalized.  Your insurance company doesn’t like that your child is hospitalized and needing care – again.  So your insurance company begins to find ways to terminate your coverage for good – like trying to find that one piece of documentation on your application for coverage or your company’s application for coverage that fits their warning as stated in the WP article, “except in cases where a member intentionally lied on an insurance application.

Let’s not be foolish.  United Healthcare will always find a way to make money and doing so will mean aggressively finding ways to cull those who need healthcare from the ranks of their policyholders.  And even as they are announcing to the world that they’ll be so consumer-friendly as to retain some provision of the new healthcare law, they are simultaneously working to end the coverage and maybe even a chance at life for one beautiful little boy in Colorado.

Shame on you, United Healthcare and other health insurers who do the same things.  And shame on us all if we do not get on with the business of making sure we have a sane and solid healthcare system under an improved and expanded Medicare for all for life model.   The nurses of National Nurses United will be on a statewide Medicare for all bus tour in California starting next week, and I’ll be with them.  No matter what the Supreme Court decides, we cannot let any more insurance company contract fine print be written in our children’s blood.

 

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? ...by Ray McGovern www.michaelmoore.com Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Latest from David Sirota on Enron billionaire John Arnold smuggling anti-pension propaganda into "neutral" institutions like PBS and now, the...

Mar 1st
12:58 PM
Read More

Second Guessing a Life: US Health Care System Robs Security and Human Dignity ...by Donna Smith michaelmoore.com The dysfunction of the US health care system...

Feb 27th
1:40 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles