In testimony that Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski called “bone-chilling,” Colorado mom Peggy Robertson recently shared with a Senate committee the unbelievable story of how a major health insurance carrier refused to insure her and what they suggested she do to make herself eligible for coverage.
In 2007, Robertson was denied coverage by Golden Rule Insurance, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group. In a letter explaining the denial, the company claimed that Robertson’s previous C-section made her a financial risk for the company. If she had another C-section within the first three years of coverage, the company would not profit from her policy. It was a risk they weren’t willing to take and because the Colorado Insurance Division would not allow them to exclude C-section benefits for the first three years, they denied her coverage altogether.
Robertson’s story may sound all too familiar, but unfortunately it doesn’t end there. In that same letter, Golden Rule went on to suggest what Robertson might do to make herself eligible for coverage: Get sterlized.
That an insurance company would dare to even hint that a healthy woman should be medically sterilized so they can make a profit is, in the words of Senator Mikulski, “morally repugnant.” But let’s face it, women already get the short end of the stick when it comes to health care coverage. Possessing a womb makes us a liability in the eyes of insurers and more than half of them don’t even offer maternity coverage. Those who do will often raise the premiums of women who have had C-sections or, as in Robertson’s case, refuse to cover them at all.
Of course, women aren’t the only ones getting a raw deal from profit-driven health insurance companies. Americans are suffering all over under our current system of health care. But when the largest insurance company in the United States feels like they have a right to plan your family to benefit their bottom line, we have a serious problem.