Several huge health insurance companies have announced -- on the eve of health care reform taking effect -- that sick children who need coverage are out of luck. Asthma? Cancer? Broken arms? Too bad, kids -- you're eating into the corporate profits.
The White House is loudly celebrating the six-month anniversary of passage of the health care law it championed, as well as the moment this week when the purported protections, including those that were supposed to keep insurance companies from denying coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions, go into effect.
But you know those corporate bigwigs are wily ones when it comes to protecting their shareholders. So instead of complying with the law, some insurers are thumbing their noses at about half a million sick American children who don't have health insurance, who need it, and are now likely never to get it.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act apparently isn't loophole free. Yes, it bans insurance companies from dropping you or your kids if you've already got an insurance policy. But nothing was included in the law that says they have to offer new policies to kids who are already sick!
Insurers such as Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna, and Cigna have announced they aren't. California Congressman and former California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi is calling them out, suggesting that these companies may actually be in violation of the new law by trying this stunt.
No one should be surprised. We have a health insurance industry that's driven by profits. That was the whole point of trying to pass universal health care, so that families could take care of sick family members without going into bankruptcy. (And don't try that George W. Bush impersonating Marie Antoinette argument of "Let them go to the emergency room!" That costs us all money just like universal health care would have.)
Did anyone really think the insurance companies weren't going to pull a stunt like this, especially at the last hour when it's harder to slap a legislative Band-Aid on it to make them cover our children?
Insurance companies already are on the hook for those of us who have coverage. But since they're for-profit, they can't be forced to offer new policies. Thanks for nothing, health care industry. And thanks for nothing you lawmakers who were too afraid to stand up to those health insurance companies who contribute to your campaigns. I can't wait to see what you all do next to keep your bottom lines more healthy than American kids.
Image via Kekka/Flickr