Greed Trumps Need
The greed in this country is astonishing. Executives and CEOs of various companies make salaries that equal the salaries or two or three average Americans and insurance executives are no different. On average, they earn $302,120 per year. Making that kind of money means that if they had to contribute to their own health costs, they could do so. Yet, they sit in judgment of those of us who cannot afford to pay or who, though no fault of our own, suffer from chronic diseases for which they don’t want to pay. They are raking in premiums from healthy people who never use their benefits, but heaven forbid one person needs them.
ProPublica discussed this dilemma as it related to Christopher McNaughton, a student at Penn State University who suffered from the worst type of ulcerative colitis. Nothing stopped McNaughton’s suffering until he went to the Mayo Clinic, and they put together a regimen of drugs that allowed him to feel normal for the first time. Then, United Healthcare (“UHC”) flagged McNaughton as a “high dollar account” and decided it would no longer pay for his treatment. Who cares if he goes back to suffering from his debilitating illness? It’s not their problem-or so they thought until McNaughton’s parents sued them.
Once the McNaughtons filed suit, they uncovered internal emails and tape recordings that showed how the company fought paying for their son’s care even though its profits were through the roof. The findings also revealed that UHC misrepresented findings and ignored warnings from a doctor they hired who determined that denying McNaughton’s medication would put his life at risk. They also lied to the university and the family that McNaughton’s doctor agreed to lower the doses, which would not have had the same effect. Think about all this for a minute. The company’s profits were rising, and they were collecting premiums from people who rarely, if ever, used the insurance, yet they didn’t want to pay for this young man’s medications-medications dire to his continued wellbeing. Welcome to America, where profit is king and people are worthless. These well-paid executives could care less that this young man had no life due to his illness, and he’s likely not the only one. According to ProPublica, only 1% of people denied benefits appeal, let alone sue.
Insurance carriers deny, on average, 1 out of every 7 claims. God help you if you live to an older age, when diseases and other ailments begin to take a toll on your body. Medicare Advantage plans don’t “help” Medicare; they take it over, and they love denying claims. In a country like America, this should never happen. People should not work their entire lives only to be deemed not worthy of being alive. It’s even worse when the patient is young like McNaughton. Call it socialism if you like, but we need some type of standardized medicine in this country so that people can get the help they need without relying on greedy insurance companies and big pharma dividing us into “win” and “lose” columns.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years