By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Insurer profits by denying needed care

My friend Clif Garboden, with whom I worked for many years at the Boston Phoenix, has written a compelling op-ed piece for the Boston Globe about his battles with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, which refuses to cover a chronic condition caused by his successful treatment for cancer. Clif writes:

I have the right to appeal this rejection …, but frankly, I have better things to do with my remaining time on earth than play against a stacked deck with a bunch of bandits.

Garboden’s tale may provide some insight into how former chief executive Charlie Baker, now the Republican candidate for governor, engineered Harvard Pilgrim’s turnaround. As Clif observes, maybe we can move something better now that we have near-universal health care.

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  1. I was so sorry to hear about the travails of Clif, who was at the Phoenix when I was there. The inanity – read, the insanity – of Harvard Pilgrim’s insensitive and cruel policies should give pause to all of us.

  2. Mark Twain might have been talking about health insurance execs when he wrote:

    “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”

  3. Maybe … But this is exactly the reason no one should be forced to pay for for-profit insurance. Starting in a few years, the government will be forcing all of us to purchase for-profit insurance, whether we want it or not. This will force us all to subsidize their profits and this behavior, whether we can afford it or not, whether we like it or not.
    That said, they supposedly will regulate things so what Clif is going through doesn’t happen to anyone … something I sincerely doubt will actually happen. God help us all.

  4. John F.J. Sullivan

    Your friend’s optimism is unfounded, Dan. As long as America’s version of “universal” health care relies on networks of private insurance companies, and there’s no teeth in the ban on pre-existing condition disqualifications, little is likely to change.

  5. Michael Corcoran

    Sadly, I am not sure the latest healthcate bill will prevent this instances — In fact, I am sure it will not.

    Privat einsurance companies cannot deny insurance, but they can certainly deny surgeries, treatments, care, just as they have done in the past (or charge such ridiculous co-pays as to either bankrupt the sick individials or force them to choose to forgo care). They can also charge MUCH more for people with pre-existing conditions, which can serve to have the same effect as denying unsurance alltogether.

    I worry that people think healthcare has been fundamentally changed; sadly, it has not. Too many people think we have come close to fixing the system; it is still do dysfunctionnaly broken.

  6. This is indeed scandalous! How they think they can get away without this type of behavior is beyond me! People battle every day with health care and there is no solutions!

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