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Commentary | VOICES / A FORUM FOR COMMUNITY ISSUES

Choose: Freedom or Health Coverage

July 28, 2001|DORRIT RAGOSINE | Dorrit Ragosine lives in Hollywood

As someone who just went through the arduous process of trying to find health insurance (I am self-employed with a preexisting condition), I find it hard to believe that HMOs in this state are not making a profit.

I just completed six months of paperwork and calls trying to get coverage--coverage that seems plenty profitable for the insurance companies.

I had a hard time finding an insuror because of my preexisting condition: Two years ago I had a precancerous lump in my breast, which was removed and radiated and supposedly cured--at least according to my doctor, although not to insurance companies.

Here's the insurance coverage that I was able to get: $389.68 per month with a $2,000 deductible and I can only go to certain doctors--ones who have negotiated with the insurance companies to charge less. The insurance company collects $4,676.16 in premiums per year from me. Add in the deductible, and that's $6,676.16 out of my pocket a year.

At this point, I only go to the doctor twice a year--not enough to exceed my deductible, so the insurance company pays for nothing.

My insurance tab is approximately 7% of my annual pay (before taxes). I'm lucky that I make enough money to afford it. What happens to someone who isn't as fortunate as I, or who lives in a ZIP code that Aetna, or any other insurance company, deems unprofitable? We all know the answer to that: They are part of the millions of people without health coverage.

Of course, the insurance companies will argue that when I did have my radiation and surgery, it was paid for. True, but it was the other thousands of people on my group plan who paid.

To my other point: Two years ago when I was diagnosed, I also was working in a terrible job situation. When I called a friend to discuss my problem, I remember telling her that I couldn't leave the job to start my own business because I needed the insurance coverage to cover my procedures.

My friend, who lives in a country with socialized medicine, said to me: "That's not right. You should have the freedom to work anywhere you want, without being concerned about your health or health insurance."

She's right and I think it's a sad commentary on what America has become. We've replaced freedom and quality of life with profit.

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