Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 10.23

Happy Mole Day everyone!

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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55 Comments

  1. This “pre-existing condition” crap has GOT TO STOP.

    First it’s a pre-existing condition if you are beat up by your partner. Now it’s a pre-existing condition if you’re raped. Fucking awesome.

    It is far too early for this crap.

  2. I am confused as to how having been raped is a condition at all.. wow.. that actually makes me super angry…..

    You have to wonder what the pencil pushers telling her the news actually thought about that.. probably justified with more victim blaming…. I have to stop.. blood pressure spiking… woo.

  3. The pre-existing condition story came up in a discussion group I happened to attend last night. It’s astounding the excuses they come up with to deny people care.

    You hear these stories sometimes, and you wonder how some of the people who work for health insurance companies could live with themselves.

    I think they get into a mode where they’re told from the office upstairs that they have to deny care any way they can, so they just get into the habit of stamping forms without reading them. That’s the only way I could imagine any decent self-respecting human being doing this kind of work.

    If I had a job like that, and a form came across my desk, and my boss told me I had to deny care because rape is a “pre-existing condition”, I think I’d stand up and walk out.

  4. @Amanda: It’s probably the URL or something that’s blocked. Stupid work. I’m just glad Skepchick isn’t blocked! :D

    @Tina: This made me RAGE:

    A 38-year-old woman in Ithaca, N.Y., said she was raped last year and then penalized by insurers because in giving her medical history she mentioned an assault she suffered in college 17 years earlier. The woman, Kimberly Fallon, told a nurse about the previous attack and months later, her doctor’s office sent her a bill for treatment. She said she was informed by a nurse and, later, the hospital’s billing department that her health insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, not only had declined payment for the rape exam, but also would not pay for therapy or medication for trauma because she “had been raped before.”

    Fallon says she now has trouble getting coverage for gynecological exams. To avoid the hassle of fighting with her insurance company, she goes to Planned Parenthood instead and pays out of pocket.

    !!!!!

  5. Moles… The BANE of my existence in high school, and college. Interestingly, never since…

    I heart guts. I want to give guts to my nieces and nephews, if my sister-in-law will let me…

    I hate “pre-existing” conditions. I applied for disability insurance ages ago and they tried to write me off with an exception to any injury to my back because I had once visited the doctor and said my back was sore. Um, no, I’ll take my money somewhere else, thanks. Not that my experience is in any way as serious as this, but it is just amazing to me what they can get away with saying and doing…

  6. @Tina: But even then it can be more expensive than what you would normally pay with a co-pay, especially if you need more than just a regular yearly exam :(

    And then of course you’re paying more on top of the insurance you already have that should have been taking care of your exams to begin with.

  7. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): So…since I’ve been having some minor hip pain, I shouldn’t say anything, then? Okay, good to know.

    Also, I’m glad I was never officially diagnosed with psoriasis, lemme tell ya.

    And I’m glad you were able to take your money elsewhere, but many people don’t have that option. Ugh, I’m glad my job provides good health care, but if I were ever to need it somewhere else… Yeah, never going to get that psoriasis officially diagnosed, that’s for sure.

    And now I’m re-thinking my decision to see a doc about my anxiety-related insomnia. :(

  8. @marilove: Yeah. We’re supposed to be completely honest with our doctors no matter what so that they can give us the best and most informed medical care but then when we are honest, it becomes a black mark on our permanent record. Is that irony? Or just douchebaggery? I don’t know. Alanis has ruined me for irony…

  9. Not to be I told you so . .okay, I’m so doing “I told you so” . . . I’ve been warning for over a decade that if we continued to call it “global warming” we would lose folks when it did not get consistently warmer. In my area we are going on three years of cooler weather. My friends in Canberra have been complaining for as long about record cold and snow.

    I’ve advocated using the term “climate change” since the early and mid 90s but no one listens. /sigh

    I’d give you links but apparently the Usenet archives of the groups where I used to argue about this are down. BAH!!!

  10. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): My problem is that psoriasis can lead to psoriasitic arthritis, which my identical twin sister has already been diagnosed with. I’m lucky because my psoriasis has been almost non-existent for YEARS and I’ve never needed to get any sort of treatment for it, while my twin sis has had it BAD, and it’s just getting steadily worse — it’s even affecting her colon!.

    So now I’m having minor hip pain, which could be from any number of things (the way I sit, nothing in particular … or because of my psoriasis). But now I don’t want to

    @infinitemonkey: You would think it would be silly, but it’s not. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which means that you’re more likely to get another autoimmune disease. So an insurance company would DEFINITELY see it as a pre-existing condition.

    Mental health issues are also seen as pre-existing conditions a lot. If I were to be diagnosed with anxiety and I lost my job and needed new health insurance… I could be screwed. But I’m fairly certain my major sleep issues are anxiety related.

    And I REALLY don’t want to be stuck at this job forever…

  11. I’m not surprised about the climate change thing. There are two guys in my office arguing about it right now. Both are scientists, but not in a relevant field. The thing that bothers me is when one of them says there’s some controversy within the scientific community, so we shouldn’t believe that climate change is happening. It’s pretty similar to the evolution “debate”. Then one guy admits that climate change is happening, but goes out of his way to find a reason that humans don’t cause it (which is irrelevant because it will effect us no matter what the cause).

  12. @catgirl: Actually, I suggest that neither of the scientists involved are in a good position to argue the validity of climate change. It’s outside of their fields.

    Their opinions are about as valid as the average person asked at random on the street.

  13. And now dear friends, from the “sweat lodge” article, I present to you the cognitive dissonance quote of the day: ” A psychic in Waynesville, N.C., Page Bryant, who was among the first to claim in the 1980s that Sedona had several “vortexes” of high energy — the initial lure for the legions of seekers — said that she became fed up and left nearly two decades ago “because of the craziness I saw going on in the New Age community.”

  14. @catgirl: That’s an interesting point. Most people tend to think of scientists as one homogeneous group and that one scientist’s opinion on climate change (or evolution for that matter) is as valid as another’s. But asking a psychobiologist’s opinion on climate change is about as valid as asking a dermatologist’s opinion on synesthesia.

  15. @Skept-artist: I LOVE Sedona. It’s not very far from Phoenix at all. It’s great for daytrips. It’s gorgeous and the locals are very nice.

    But the crazy is hiiiiigh there.

    Also, if you go a bit further north, you hit Jerome, which is the cutest little town set on the side of a mountain ever.

  16. @marilove: I have only been in AZ once and it was only a layover, unfortunately. But it was a clear, sunny day, so that when the plane took off and we spiraled over Phoenix and the surrounding areas it was breathtakingly beautiful. I’d love to see it from the ground one day.

  17. @Skept-artist: If you do come to AZ again, you’ll have to make a point to drive. I’ve never been to the East of the state, nor much farther north than Flagstaff, but both areas are supposed to be gorgeous.

    Jerome is adooorable and Sedona is crazy beautiful.

    It’s almost always a clear, sunny day here. :)

  18. @marilove: Northern Arizona is certainly a beautiful place. Two years ago I was up there to check out that big long hole in the ground north of Flagstaff. 90% of the tourists visiting the Grand Canyon opt for the South Rim, but it’s definitely worth it, if you have the means, to visit the forested North Rim instead. When I was there in June the temperature at the Rim was in the high 60’s, and the scenery along that stretch of Highway 89 was all kinds of beautiful. Met my fair share of friendly hippies, too :)

  19. @marilove: That part you quoted is exactly the part when I decided to send the story in. Outrage doesn’t begin to describe it.

    Also, my husband and I honeymooned in Sedona and would go back in a heartbeat. We did do a guided hike around the mesas that are supposed to have vortices, but it was just a lovely walk, with a little quiet meditation at the end. And agreement that neither of us encountered anything “spiritual,” except when we visited the Grand Canyon (first time for me). It had been snowing and we practically had the place to ourselves. Now that was magic.

  20. Re: The rape stories.

    That is fucking insane. “You’ve been raped before, so rape treatment is a pre-existing condition”? This is the kind of thing that makes me want to break people’s arms with a lead pipe, and once they’ve healed, break them again and explain it was a pre-existing condition. “Hey, it happened to you once. We’re not going to pay if it happens again.”

    Stupid. I hope they’ve been sued.

  21. @Imrryr: totally know what you mean about Northern Arizona being beautiful. Sedona or Page Springs are lovely to drive to and sit back with a plate of cheeses and some bottles of Caduceus wine.

    @marilove:
    For some reason, most of the crazy political people in my family reside in Chandler or Mesa. Every single time I go down to see them, the only thing on their tele is Fox News (turn it off and it devolves into insecure homophobic comments and how “The Secret” kicks ass, sigh :( ). But on the plus side, there is just something nice about being there in January wearing just jeans and a t-shirt, as this MPLS winter stuff gets old pretty fast.

  22. @Tim3P0: OMG LOL, the last time we went to Sedona, then through Jerome, we made sure to go back through Sedona again to get some Caduceus wine. It was delicious, especially after a full day of hiking and driving.

    Chandler and Mesa, yep! Mesa is fullll of Mormons. LOL, once the LGBQT org I volunteer with went to a dinner theater in Mesa … you’d think we’d get along, but I’m not so sure the old folks appreciated a bunch of loud, proud gays. It was hilarious.

    It’s 87 degrees out right now, guys! Be jealous! It was 102 last weekend. Even that’s a bit much for us in October.

    If you come to the Valley again, we should grab a drink! I know all the best Irish pubs! (We have so many Irish pubs, it’s weird.)

  23. @Tina:

    I am confused as to how having been raped is a condition at all.

    It doesn’t sound like they are really saying rape is the pre-existing condition. It’s things that may be the result of the rape that they are classifying as pre-existing conditions. Things like PTSD and possible exposure to STDs, especially HIV.

    @Peregrine:

    The pre-existing condition story came up in a discussion group I happened to attend last night. It’s astounding the excuses they come up with to deny people care.

    Yeah, but it all comes down to probabilities. From the insurer’s perspective, prior treatment for HIV means greater risk of future illness. So they factor that in. How well they factor it in, and how well they take into account the particulars, is up for debate. I would think that treatment “just in case”, with no evidence of HIV at any time, would be treated differently from treatment of confirmed HIV infection.

    If I had a job like that, and a form came across my desk, and my boss told me I had to deny care because rape is a “pre-existing condition”, I think I’d stand up and walk out.

    Surely one of the downsides of a business that depends on cold calculations, and leaves little room for compassion.

    I am a Hedge

  24. @marilove: sounds like a fantastic idea, as i am sure carr2d2 & myself will be back in arizona again sometime. we’ll be sure to wear our special sexy underwear to protect our droid arses from the mormons as we covertly traverse the wooey streets to meet up with you :)

  25. @marilove:

    “…Blue Cross Blue Shield, not only had declined payment for the rape exam, but also would not pay for therapy or medication for trauma because she “had been raped before.”

    My response to reading this out loud to my husband was, “I would love somebody to tell me that. I would immediately find out where they are and rip their throat out through their asshole.”

    I have coverage through BCBS. I suddenly want to go to their offices and have a talk with whoever might be able to explain this bullshit to me.

    I have never understood pre-existing conditions. Everyone has them. My depression. My husband’s knee problems. So the goal, then, is to not get diagnosed with anything until you have seemingly stable health care coverage. HATE HATE HATE.

    Hate.

  26. I have never understood pre-existing conditions.

    Insurance is about managing risk. When all risks are unknown everyone pays an equal amount into the pool. From that pool, the risks that become realized (actual illness and injury) can be covered. When there is additional information about some of the risks, then the amount payed into the pool is adjusted based on that information. For example, if someone has a known heart defect, this increases their risk of incurring health costs. This information is used to determine that the person with that known risk pays a bit more into the pool.

    Given the current system, some consideration of pre-existing conditions by the insurance companies makes sense. When you purchase an insurance policy you are paying the company to assume some of your financial risk related to health issues. If there is information that indicates a greater risk, then you have to pay them more for them to accept that additional risk.

    The problem I see with this system is that it is based on common sharing of unknown risk (or, at least, largely unknown risk), but our knowledge of individual risks is increasing. More information should be a good a thing, but it eventually becomes a poor fit for the current health insurance system.

    So the goal, then, is to not get diagnosed with anything until you have seemingly stable health care coverage.

    In many cases, yes. This ends up putting the consumer at odds with the provider, rather than always being in a cooperative relationship. It makes information hiding a benefit to one of the parties financially, while that same hiding is a detriment to them medically. You end up with doctors doing a patient a ‘favor’ by omitting certain information from the patient’s record. This means future doctors may not get that information, which could be very important for optimal treatment of that patient. So there’s a short term benefit for the patient (the insurer does not learn all the facts), but a long term cost (future doctors will also not learn all the facts).

    I am a Hedge

  27. @Im a Hedge:

    but it eventually becomes a poor fit for the current health insurance system.

    This is because American health insurance, is not in fact insurance really. Its more of a weird prepayment of health thing that makes very little sense. In real health insurance, only expensive, unlikely procedures are covered and how much you pay depend son how risky you are.

  28. @James K: This is because American health insurance, is not in fact insurance really. Its more of a weird prepayment of health thing that makes very little sense.

    This is exactly what it started out to be, however, so at least it is true to its roots. This American Life had a wonderful piece about this last weekend which I highly recommend.

    What’s new in the health care system is rescission where agents scrutinize large claims and look for loopholes so the insurance company doesn’t have to pay. This is unfair and should be illegal unless the insurance company can prove fraud.

  29. @davew:

    What’s new in the health care system is rescission where agents scrutinize large claims and look for loopholes so the insurance company doesn’t have to pay. This is unfair and should be illegal unless the insurance company can prove fraud.

    Unfair, and since its effectively breach of contract yes it should be illegal. Its also inevitable given community rating. Insurance companies can identify which people are costing them more money, and forcing them to charge higher premiums across the board.

    The insurance companies have every incentive to screw these high-risk customers over and incentives beat legal monitoring 9 times out of 10.

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