November 4 2013
Joe Soptic, Meet Edie Sundby
When we buy health insurance, why to do we buy it? Edie Littlefield Sundby, who survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer for much longer than is normal, saw her health insurance policy as nothing less than a way to stay alive.
A self-described “ObamaCare loser,” Sundby writes in the Wall Street Journal:
My grievance [with ObamaCare] is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.
My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits.
Ms. Sundby has spent countless hours looking for a new policy that will give her what the old one did. Her “greatest source of frustration” is Covered California, her state’s ObamaCare exchange. It is impossibly complex and, after four weeks of trying to find out what is available, on the website and talking to insurance counselors, Ms. Sundby has been unable to determine what is available to her. “Time is running out,” she writes.
Ms. Sundby was one of those people who liked her policy and her doctors:
Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.
But in January, United Healthcare sent me a letter announcing that they were pulling out of the individual California market. The company suggested I look to Covered California starting in October.
Ms. Sundby’s story reminded me of why people buy health insurance—or why we did before ObamaCare. We purchased health insurance in case we got sick and needed expensive health care. It gave us peace of mind, and if we became sick, as Ms. Sundby did, it could help us stay alive.
But, it seems to me, that ObamaCare has a difference scenario—we purchase health insurance not to support our own needs but to support the needs of ObamaCare. This is a tectonic shift. I’m wondering if ObamaCare supporters should dust off the military recruiting poster that says “Uncle Sam needs you” and reissue it as “ObamaCare needs you.”
ObamaCare was passed so that Democrats could make history, so that they could realize a longstanding dream of their party, so that wealth could be distributed without calling it wealth redistribution. What the system seems not to do at all—not to be even designed to do—is to allow sick people such as Ms. Sundby to stay alive.
Remember the ad from an Obama PAC that accused Mitt Romney of causing a woman to die because she had cancer and her insurance policy had been cancelled? The ad was based on an absurd timeline and other falsehoods. Edie Sundby is telling the honest to God truth.