It seems like every week during the health reform debate, some new cruelty in our health care system is revealed. For example, last week the office of House Rules Committee chair, Louise Slaughter (D-NY), released this statement:
Slaughter has worked to insert a provision into the health care bill that would ban insurance companies from denying coverage to women by calling domestic violence a “pre-existing condition”. The provision would go into effect on January 10, 2010.
“It is absolutely ridiculous that a woman can be denied coverage because she was a victim of domestic abuse, and I am proud that we are putting an end to this deplorable practice,” said Slaughter. “I was personally offended by this practice on the part of insurance companies, and I worked with my colleagues in the House leadership to guarantee that women who are victims of domestic abuse will be able to receive health care that women in America receive the quality health care they deserve.”
Yep, that’s right- apparently in DC and eight other states, it’s legal for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence, because domestic abuse can be considered a pre-existing condition. Huffington Post explains their rationale:
Under the cold logic of the insurance industry, it makes perfect sense: If you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you’re more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure.
In human terms, it’s a second punishment for a victim of domestic violence.
In 1995, the Boston Globe found that companies that deny or have canceled coverage to battered women included Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm, Aetna, Metropolitan Life, The Equitable Companies, First Colony Life, The Prudential and the Principal Financial Group. Since then, it’s a little unclear which companies, if any, are still denying coverage to those who have been beaten by their partners. State Farm, for one, has changed its position:
“We became aware that we were part of the reason a woman and her children might not leave an abuser. They were afraid they’d lose their insurance. And we wanted no part of that.'”
Here’s the thing with that. Recently, Mike Enzi has also said:
I will fight any proposal that suggests rationing health care, particularly for seniors. Longer waiting times for imaging, surgery or treatment is a form of rationing.
Yet three years ago he voted against an amendment that would give victims of domestic abuse access to health insurance, on the grounds that it would be too expensive. Perhaps the Senator should look up the definition of the word “rationing.”