Health Reform Could Mean More Treatment Denials

None of the current bills force insurers to actually treat patients
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2009 10:00 AM CDT
Harry Reid, Max Baucus, and Chris Dodd speak to reporters about health care reform, Oct. 15, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – Health care reform would force insurers to accept everyone, even those with pre-existing conditions; but it wouldn’t actually force them to treat those patients. None of the reform bills pending on Capitol Hill would restrict insurers’ ability to deny procedures for their customers, the LA Times reports. In fact, because they’ll have to take on sick patients, insurers will likely turn down even more claims as a way of controlling costs.

“There are going to be a lot of denials,” one former insurance exec said. “I am not setting insurance companies up to be villains. But we are telling them to bend the cost curve. How else are they going to” do that? Currently, most patients have no legal recourse if they’re denied coverage. The House bill would allow those on government-purchased insurance to sue in such cases, but those on employer-provided care would remain powerless.