The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance held a seminar on Healthcare Insurance Reform and its impact on women, but especially focused on the ovarian cancer community. There has been so much confusion with the legislation, political posturing and stakeholder screaming that it’s impossible to know what to believe. Fortunately, I learned that once you clear away all the smoke, it all boils down to a few fundamental issues.
First, the reform is directed at insurance practices and laws, not the care itself. As a seasoned patient, I’m pretty satisfied with the quality of healthcare I receive. From doctors to medicine, I trust that I’m able to access whatever is available to deal with my disease.
According the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, the problems with the health insurance system in this country are:
1. Cost is way too high and getting higher. This pertains to non-company plans, COBRA and co-pays, particularly for those with a cancer history.
2. Industry practices are not always fair, including arbitrary decisions about pre-existing conditions, non-coverage of treatment, exclusion of medications or treatments, and outright denial of service.
3. Gender rating, a shocking discrimination, is allowed in 40 states where health insurers calculate premiums for consumers based on gender. Women can pay as much as 40 percent more than men for the same health plan under gender rating because women are more likely to go to the doctor when they are sick, and some may need maternity care.
What the Alliance is seeking in the legislation is:
• Coverage that is available and affordable
• Coverage that is portable
• Care that is high quality
• Care that is patient-centered
• Creation of national high risk pools for those who have been denied or cannot afford insurance
• Provision of subsidies
• Elimination of annual and life time caps (particularly important to those with chronic illness)
• Elimination of pre-existing condition clauses
• Creation of state level Health Insurance Exchanges
• Elimination of gender rating
I am glad to know that patient advocacy groups are representing women with serious medical conditions in the conversations about healthcare insurance reform. The Alliance CEO, Dr. Karen Orloff Kaplan works directly with the White House, engages continually with Congress and listens to women across the country to assure that survivors have a voice in the debates.
These are complicated issues during frustrating times but it is our right and privilege to understand the various sides in the debate and to make our concerns known to those elected to represent us.
Furthermore, if you want to share your insurance issues with those speaking on behalf of women with cancer, your emails are welcome at www.ovariancancer.org.
Speak up. Speak out. That’s why we live in America.