Thursday, December 20, 2007
Pre-existing conditions preclude you from insurance
There is more evidence than ever that not having health care insurance can cost you your life. I was pretty struck by a report this morning showing that cancer patients were 1.6 times more likely to die in five years if they did not have insurance. (Watch Video)
And, here is something even more striking: A patient with grade 2 cancer has a 90 percent survival rate at five years if the patient is insured. A patient with grade 1 cancer (a better stage to have) has an 80 percent survival rate if the patient is not insured. Yes, you read that right. According to new data from the American Cancer Society, being uninsured makes you less likely to survive, even if you start with a lower-grade cancer.
There are more insurance issues raised in the study, and many of them have to do with lack of access to care. For instance, 86 percent of insured women get pap smears, compared to only 68 percent of uninsured women. And, to make matters worse, if you do develop cancer, it is often difficult to get insurance because you now have a pre-existing condition. In fact, health care proposals released by presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Fred Thompson have few provisions for people to obtain insurance if they already have a medical condition. That is all the more ironic, given Mayor Giuliani's history of prostate cancer, Sen. McCain's history of melanoma and Sen. Thompson's history of lymphoma.
The insurance industry is taking steps to try to create plans for people with pre-existing conditions that are not prohibitively expensive, but for many people that relief may not come fast enough. Have you had a hard time getting insurance, even when you wanted to buy it? What did you do about it?
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