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April 30, 2007

Pre-existing conditions should not disqualify health insurance

Each individual possesses genetic markers and medical technology has advanced to the level that the human genome can be mapped to specifically predict a person's predisposition to disease.

An unborn child can be tested by a trained physician to determine susceptibility to certain diseases - such as cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer's - decades before they're diagnosed. This information can lead to early treatment and perhaps even cures, but the fear that it could be used to deny people health insurance and employment opportunities accompanies it.

That trepidation is one step closer to being calmed with the U.S. House passage of HR 493 - the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The Senate is expected to follow suit making it illegal for health insurance companies to deny people coverage because of their genetic make-up and for employers refusing to hire people for that same reason.

While I want to shout "Hooray" and celebrate the legislation that basically tells these companies it is none of their business as to what health condition a person could likely develop, it does nothing to solve the discrimination occurring now with "pre-existing conditions."

My 2-year-old son was diagnosed with a tectal plate brain tumor, located at the brain stem, that caused hydrocephalus when he was 8 months old. It was determined by his pediatric neurosurgeon to be congenital. Fortunately, my husband and I were able to insure him the day he was born from an employee contribution plan through my spouse's employer. This plan covers our entire family. Thinking ahead, we decided to look into acquiring affordable health insurance for our son after my husband's retirement, which is in about 10 years. Guess what? No one will insure our little guy because he has a "pre-existing condition."

The option we were told repeatedly by insurance companies, which would be a sure way to get our son insured, was to become destitute, liquidating all our assets, to qualify for governmental assistance through Medicaid. It was offensive every time to be told discreetly in all its political correctness that the health care system does not encourage people to be productive.

Quite the contrary, even though knowledge and treatment are leading to better health for people with conditions like my son - which were less than 20 years ago debilitating and deadly - because an innate ailment is possessed, those people are automatically disqualified from insurance that would help provide health care services and medications that could prolong life and even enable those people to be positive contributors to society.

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Posted by healthinsurance at April 30, 2007 01:39 PM