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Got bunions? No insurance for you

Reasons for denying coverage may surprise you

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 7:55PM

We knew that health insurance companies refuse to sell individual policies to people who've had cancer or hypertension. But acne or bunions -- or working in a first-responder job?


Insurance company documents obtained and made public by Consumer Watchdog indicate how far some insurers will go to limit individual coverage to only the healthiest people (and those with the safest jobs). A hangnail? You'll get coverage. Toenail fungus? Perhaps not.


This is news because health care reform intends to prohibit insurance companies from denying individual coverage to those with pre-existing conditions or setting the price beyond most people's grasp.


The insurance companies whose internal documents were disclosed either wouldn't comment or observed that the documents were several years old -- and declined to say whether they'd been updated, The Washington Post said.


You can read the documents, all .pdf files, by clicking here, here, here and here.


Some examples: You could be denied coverage if you:

  • Work as a police officer, firefighter, stunt person, test pilot, logger, rodeo performer, or migrant, utility or circus worker (the big tent could come falling down, or maybe an elephant could get loose).
  • Are pregnant, are an expectant father or are going to adopt.
  • Take common prescription drugs like Allegra, Advair and Lamisil, the toenail fungus drug.
  • Have chronic tonsillitis, varicose veins, acne (Accutane-free for less than six or 12 momths), hemorrhoids, bunions, asthma, arthritis, ADD or silicone breast implants.
  • Have gotten therapy or counseling within the last six months, or "currently experiencing/experienced within the last 12 months symptoms for which a physician has not been consulted."

About that last one, Michael Santo wrote at

Based on the horror stories of people who have their coverage revoked when an insurance company finds some condition they neglected to tell them about, this could be taken to the extreme: "Sorry, Mr. Johnson, you forgot to tell us about that runny nose you had in March."

What do you think? Jeff Rosenberg at MNpublius offers this opinion:

Whatever ultimately happens with health care reform, we at least need to end this nonsense. Without health insurance, millions of Americans are unable to afford proper medical treatment. So how could it make any sense to deny access to insurance just because a prospective client has heartburn?

Related reading:

Published Sept. 21, 2009



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