In the last 24 hours, I’ve read two more examples of just how arbitrary health insurance companies can be.
In Longmont, CO, a women’s health insurance premiums went up because her ZIP code changed. She didn’t move; she didn’t change doctors. The Post Office had simply gone about its business and divided a growing ZIP code delivery area into two smaller ones. The effect was to change the ZIP code of a bunch of Longmont residents and, as it turned out, the premium rate for at least one woman.
I’ve long known that car and home insurance rates are based at least partially on ZIP codes, and there’s some logic in that, I suppose. Cars may be parked at night in known high-crime areas or in areas necessitating many miles of commuting (and accident exposure) every day. Homes may be located in high risk areas (e.g., far from fire protection). Somewhere in all this lies a certain logic.
But having your health insurance premium go up because your ZIP code changed, even when your street address obviously hasn’t, sounds like the work of either a computer or a particularly greedy bureaucrat. In this case, the company’s logic had something to do with proximity to hospitals and doctors, which of course does not acknowledge that this woman and her neighbors live exactly where they did before their ZIP code was changed. But hey, what a windfall for the insurance company.
Then there’s the Huff Post report today that getting beaten up by your spouse constitutes a pre-existing condition in eight states and in the District of Columbia. And of course it makes perfect sense. If you’ve been beaten by a spouse, chances are you’ll be beaten again, either because you still live with him/her or because you’re the type of person who puts yourself at risk for such beatings. And that’s going to cost the insurance company. Tsk, tsk. Sorry, you’re uninsurable.
Next thing you know, being human will be a pre-existing condition. We bleed, our bones break. Bullets, blades, and car crashes can really mess us up. We’re actually pretty squishy. And we’re subject to all kinds of nasty diseases, too. The tiniest organisms can disable or even kill us. And if we survive all that, old age will eventually get every one of us. All these perils are going to cost the health insurance companies a ton of money. And no one is invincible, no one is immortal. Yep, better make humanness a pre-existing condition.