Denied Health Insurance Because You're Pregnant

pregnantShe was willing to pay for health insurance, but no one would give it to her. She had a pre-existing condition: pregnancy.

Writing in an Irish newspaper this weekend, Caitriona Palmer shared a relatively common story: no insurance, trying to find a carrier who will take her on. They said yes to her husband, but Palmer was going to cost them too much money in four months – namely, the cost of delivering her child.

She ended up being forced to make a deal with the hospital – and opted for natural birth, no drugs, as much because it was the cheapest option as her own desire to actually “go natural.” The best offer she could get from the hospital? They promised not to charge her more than $20,000 regardless of what happened inside the delivery room. How kind of them. A midwife who took pity on her uninsured status even granted her pre-natal visits for just $100 a pop. You can read the dirty details here.

What makes this article stand out particularly from the rhetoric of the right, with their frequent usage of the word “death” to literally scare up supporters, is a simple fact: this woman was willing to pay for health insurance. She wasn’t asking for a handout, a chief argument I’ve heard from people who oppose health care reform on the basis that it adds another layer of people “expecting the government to take care of them.”

What do you know, the health insurance company wouldn’t take care of this one.

Word has it we might very well NOT get a public option out of the current debate on Capitol Hill. We may be stuck with the same old health insurance companies making the same old mistakes.

In some ways, the exact details of the Obama administration’s plan are beside the point. What is particularly abhorrent is the way pregnancy and pregnant women are treated here in America.

That it could cost $20,000 to have a baby (likely double for a C-section). Yes, doctors, nurses, etc. need to be paid, but a two-day stay in a hospital costs more than half the cars in America?

That a woman could end up in serious debt just as she needs money the most – to fund the life of her child. I’ve heard that people need to be aware of these things when they have a child, be prepared for the eventualities, and it’s true. But how many Americans have an extra $20,000 lying around? That requirement would knock a large sector of the population out of the running for ever giving birth – not just the poor but most of the middle class as well.

And yet it’s perfectly acceptable for health insurance companies to say “so sorry, but nah, we don’t like your big burgeoning belly.” And where do the women turn? If their income is low enough, they might get some help along the way from WIC (psst, that’s a government handout folks – you know, like a socialised form of medicine) or Medicaid (ditto).

If it’s just a tad too high, they go into debt, perhaps become one of the millions of Americans who end up filing for bankruptcy not because they drove up their credit card bills but because their health care bills were too high.

What a way to start a child’s life.

Image: Funbobseye

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