Doctor Science Knows

Monday, April 20, 2009

Medical insurance

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings posted on Why We Need Universal Health Insurance, pointing to Kate Michelman's account in The Nation of what her family has gone through. In the ensuing discussion, I wrote -- in response to one of the local libertarians:


What I honestly don't understand is why you're more frightened of the government than you are of the medical insurance industry. I wrangle with some government agency maybe once a year, twice if you count taxes automatically; I wrangle with a medical insurance company or their effects at least once every six to eight weeks.

I have not been personally *afraid* of what the gov't will do, even when we discovered we owed $2K for last year -- they can cope, they'll listen to reason. I have been *afraid* of insurance companies, I have had to experience direct physical pain because of their decisions -- like, for instance, not approving a medication I need before a weekend. Or the time when my coverage lapsed for a month, and I had to cut back on my meds to skirt the edge of illness. Or my husband being in constant knee pain but the company not having agreed to surgery for him, because it hasn't hurt *enough* yet.

You say the government works by coercion and the frequent threat of violence, but I honestly do not see that as realistic threat. The threat I feel from medical insurance companies is direct and personal, a matter of my daily health. What Kate Michelman is experiencing -- what Gary Farber here is, for another -- is closer to a literal life-and-death struggle.

Are you saying that this isn't familiar to you, either personally or in people close to you?

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