Sunday, January 30, 2011

You may not be able to live without two cents

Two cents can be a matter of life or death.

Type in "two cents makes man lose insurance" into your search engine. You'll get a page of results. Last week, the story of Vietnam Vet Ronald Flanagan of Thornton, Colorado made news in Denver and then across the United States.

His wife mistakenly shorted the monthly insurance payment online by two cents. The couple pay $328.69 monthly for insurance coverage. Mr. Flanagan has multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow.

His insurance company dropped their coverage, because they had not paid their full premium — again it was short by two cents. After the news coverage of the dropped policy, the company decided to reinstate Mr. Flanagan's coverage.

One news report had the company's spokesman standing firm about their initial reaction to drop Mr. Flanagan.
"We followed the normal procedures that were in complete compliance with the law and with regualtions. (sic)"

I understand policy and regulation. This story illustrates how policy and regulation don't give any wiggle room to real families. The news reports say that the Flanagans received a bill noting the two-cent shortage, but don't indicate that the couple paid it. They paid their regular monthly bill. There was no indication  on the statement that the two cents was overdue. They paid dearly for this two cent mistake.

Mr. Flanagan's wife had to halt a bone biopsy procedure, because they had no insurance to pay for it. The procedure was stopped. And, news reports as of Jan. 26 said he was working to get back on the stem cell transplant list now that his coverage has been reinstated.

This illustrates that without health insurance you don't get service. I know a lot of people who oppose the health care reform passed in 2010. I know some people, who say, "You can get care if you need it."

Mr. Flanagan illustrates the point that no you can't. He needed medical treatment and the services had to be stopped, because he had no insurance.

I'm happy Mr. Flanagan was able to get his coverage reinstated and wish him many healthy years ahead. His story reminds us all how important health insurance is and how many cannot live without it.

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