Thanks to blogger spork_incident for bringing this to my attention. According to a press release for SEIU, 9 states allow insurance companies to consider domestic violence a pre-existing condition, and use that to deny insurance claims. Eight of the 16 major insurance companies have used this right to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence.
Perversely, if you understand domestic violence, it’s easier for you to see why insurance companies would do this than it might be for someone who doesn’t realize that it’s about more than just hitting, but that it involves the abuser pulling his victim into a cycle of dependence and stalking in order to control her. Once a man has hit a woman, the odds of him doing it again are astronomical, and the odds are that he will escalate the level of violence as well, because part of being an abuser is testing your boundaries and seeing how much you can get away with before she leaves. For those of us in the humane world, the fact that a woman who has been slapped today is in grave danger of receiving a massive beatdown in the next few months or years is a tragedy that we should seek to prevent. From the insurance company’s perspective, however, a woman who is slapped today is likely someone who will incur a massive hospital bill in the future, and that’s all they need to know.
Just lovely. President Obama may well have been wrong; some insurance executives are evil. How any human being, possessed of enough reason, education, and thinking ability to even be an insurance executive, could justify a decision like this is monstrous. "Putting profits ahead of people" becomes more than a mere catchphrase when you visualize the real world impact of domestic violence upon its victims, the bruises, broken bones, and psychological trauma. A woman is beaten by her partner, beaten severely enough to require medical attention, and her insurance company refuses to pay for that treatment?
From the SEUI blog:
Words cannot describe the sheer inhumanity of this claim. It serves as yet further proof that our insurance system is broken, destroyed by the profit-mongering of the very companies who's sole purpose should be to provide Americans with access to care when they need it most.
But it's people who make these policies, not faceless corporations. Individual humans who decide that covering injuries caused by domestic violence represent an excessive risk to their insurance company's profits; therefore, health insurance coverage for these individuals should be limited or denied. How do they sleep at night?
But it doesn't end there. Pandagon again:
Besides the immediately obvious bad effects of this---particularly since a woman who has been abused before is in serious danger of getting severely hurt by the abuser, especially if she tries to leave---there are a number of unintended consequences. Obviously, the major one is that the fear of losing insurance coverage might drive victims to avoid reaching out for help, and it may even mean that they don’t get treatment for their injuries after an abusive incident. And of course, the less a woman reaches out for help, the less likely she is to get out of the situation. In addition, one form of control that abusers use over their victims is financial dependence, and impoverishing a woman by denying her health care coverage will only make her more dependent on the abuser.
At the end of the day, we are presented with yet another urgent need for health care reform, one that should be of immediate, personal concern to at least 51% of those 60,000 angry teabaggers parading around D.C. yesterday. But I'm sure Fox will tell them it's nothing to worry about, that the "liebruls" have you all worked up over nothing, honey.....as Joe Bob bellows for another beer "NOW, WOMAN!", right after halftime. No, nothing about this problem is as bad as creeping socialism, how the president is no different than Stalin or Hitler, and worries that granny will be put before a government death panel staffed by ACORN revolutionaries.
The problems of health care reform are too various and complicated to address in a single blog post, or even a single blog. But I believe that the overarching drive for profit above all else leads otherwise rational and moral people to make inhumane decisions, and allows the avaricious to release their gluttonous drives fully, without reproach. In other words, greed is not good. Not for the individual, not for the society at large, and not for the soul.