June 19th, 2009
10:36 AM ET

Health care outrage goes uncovered

Robin Beaton, 59, found out just days before her mastectomy that her insurance provider would not cover the procedure.

Robin Beaton, 59, found out just days before her mastectomy that her insurance provider would not cover the procedure.

Paul Begala
CNN Contributor

You probably have never heard of Robin Beaton, and that's what's wrong with the debate over health care reform.

Beaton, a retired nurse from Waxahachie, Texas, had health insurance - or so she thought. She paid her premiums faithfully every month, but when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, her health insurance company, Blue Cross, dumped her.

The insurance company said the fact that she had seen a dermatologist for acne, who mistakenly entered a notation on her chart that suggested her simple acne was a precancerous condition, allowed Blue Cross to leave her in the lurch.

Beaton testified before a House subcommittee this week. So did other Americans who thought they had insurance but got the shaft. As Karen Tumulty of Time magazine (who has been the journalistic conscience of health care coverage) wrote, other witnesses included:

"Peggy Raddatz, whose brother Otto Raddatz lost his insurance coverage right before he was scheduled to receive an expensive stem-cell transplant to treat his lymphoma. Why? Because Fortis Insurance Company discovered his doctor had found gall stones and an aneurysm on a CT scan - conditions that had nothing to do with his cancer, that never bothered him and that he wasn't even aware of. And Jennifer Wittney Horton of Los Angeles, California, whose coverage was canceled because she had been taking a drug for irregular menstruation. Now, she can't get coverage anywhere else. 'Since my rescission, I have had to take jobs that I do not want, and put my career goals on hold to ensure that I can find health insurance,' she told the subcommittee."

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Health Care
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    @Melissa – Paul Begala who wrote this post is a Democrat and not a GOP.

    We need to get over our fear of "socialized" medicine and really look at what France and Canada has in their system that we might want to incorporate into our own health insurance system. There is no excuse for insurance companies to cancel on people like this; and for the executives to sit and say with no concern at all that they will not stop the practice shows that the insurance companies do not care at all about the people who they have promised care to in exchange for the outrageous sums of money they collect each month as premiums. We deserve better and we as a people and a country can do better.

    June 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm |
  2. Lesley Anne

    I want to comment on the perception of the public option being socialized medicine. It's not. Who do you think makes the decisions about your health care now? Certainly not you or your doctors. It's workers at the insurance companies who, if you read the news this week, are being compensated by the insurers for every claim and policy they deny. They are given incentives to refuse to pay for treatment that has been bought and paid for with ever-increasing premiums, just to pump up the bottom line for the for-profit industry. Good luck getting those insurance companies to agree to reduce their profits so that you can get your money's worth. And if you think that having a large number of insurance companies makes for competition, that's false. They only compete with each other to get higher profits, not to make health care affordable. Give them real competition by offering a public option and see how reasonable they will become. The only way to reform the industry is to offer a public option so that insurers will have to rethink the way they do business or else go out of business.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  3. Dan M.

    Thankfully, in Michigan, Blue Cross is not allowed to do any medical underwriting on an individual policy, and since I have pre-existing conditions, I better not move just in case I ever need to buy an individual policy!!

    June 19, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  4. DRNLV

    The real issue with health care is not that so many are truly against it.
    Pathetic Politicians are willing to deny millions of Americans care only because the President is the opposition.
    If it were truly the money, they would have clamped down on President Bush years ago.
    I ask myself on a regular bases, who votes for a Senator or Congressman that refuses to give to you the voter the same health care that you the voter pays for them.
    Now these same Politicians pay off the Lobbyist that help get the elected, but they refuse to pay off you the voter who really puts them in office with health care.
    Where is your vote going?

    June 19, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  5. Nikki E.

    I see Paul Begala was responsible for the article. Good man, not surprised.


    June 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  6. Nikki E.

    Nothing insurance companies do surprises me, but I do have a renewed sense of disgust and anger when I hear about these things. My personal struggle with them is that there are naturopathic and holistic health care practitioners who've had great success in treating autism - my daughter has autism - and we can't afford the treatments given by these licensed professionals because the insurance companies get to tag the treatments as "experimental," and won't cover them. We're talking about a child's future, their ability to communicate or understand their world. I don't care if there's a 1/1000th of 1 percent chance of the treatments working, if there's ANY chance, you cover it.

    Thanks for the article, Anderson. We don't get nearly as outraged as we should about this topic.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  7. BencyV

    I'm outraged with the insurance company too. I'm 23 years old , with no insurance. recently i bought insurance where i have to pay 100 dollars every month, plus i get sent bills worth 2000 dollars for every time i see a doctor or take some test. Every time i call my insurance company to see if they cover my tests...they say its not included in their plan or there is some kind of limits. It"s ridiculous. The insurance company needs to be uncovered with all their fraud plans. They just looting people like crazy . If lot of media coverage goes after them, something good might happen. Hoping so !!

    June 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  8. Wendy

    We as a country are weak.We know we need health care for ourselves and our neighbors. US Government have been genereous to Big Business I say its time to the US Government to be Genereous to us the citizens and we also pay the bills for our country. How about a National election let us choose but the reality is we get screwed and then we will put our head in the sand while our neighbors suffer

    June 19, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  9. dona cardenas

    this happened to me by BCBS when i was in my earlier 20's. BCBS dropped me because of the same exact reason. they said i had a pre-existing issue because of how the doctor had entered it in a file. Now I'm reading this and I'm wondered if now that I have BCBS again (not by choice spouse's company) if i have a cancer issue in the future will they refuse to cover me!!! after all we've spent in premiums this is an outrage.
    socialist medicine as Obama proposes is NOT the answer though. insurance reform is.

    June 19, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  10. Melissa

    Interesting that you chose to blame Obama for no attention being paid to that, when it was the newspapers decision not to cover it.

    Obama is not a god. No matter how much hateful Republicans would like to claim he thinks he is. He can only do one thing at a time.

    And frankly, what exactly do you call the media obsession over health care that has occurred for the last three days, hmm? Its getting alot of attention. Its just not getting the kind of attention that some people would like to see it receive.

    It never ceases to amaze me how Democrat Presidents are expected to handle so much in such a short period of time while Republican Presidents are allowed to get to things whenever they happen to feal like it, if they ever get to them at all.

    Its a double standard. And its childish.

    June 19, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  11. Kathleen

    When is someone going to stand up to the insurance industry. I am outraged!

    June 19, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  12. Marlene Preedom

    Thank you Anderson and Paul, for shining a light on this issue. A member of our family has also had the experience of being refused health insurance because of a "pre-existing condition," which had nothing to do with the physical health of the individual. He is physically very healthy! He found a part time job which, with enough hours of work, provides health insurance. We hope and pray his company will give him enough hours to keep his coverage.

    June 19, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  13. Jane

    My sister recently died 19 years after her first diagnosis of breast cancer. Her death followed emergency surgery for bone fractures. She survived almost three weeks post surgery during which time she received caring and compassionate care and the family received counselling from the palliative care team.
    Luckily for us this occurred in a country with the dreaded 'socialized' medicine. She was not bankrupt from 19 years of treatment and had never had to phone up an insurance carrier or hospital and argue about costs or preexisting conditions. During those last days not once did we worry about the cost of morphine or the price of a private room for patient who needed privacy for herself and her family.
    It is becoming increasing rare for someone in the US to be able to worry about health/illness without worrying about money. Peolple with good insurance which is increasingly limited to government employees or those who work for big business have no idea how the reat of us live and die!

    June 19, 2009 at 11:13 am |