[I am pleased to offer today's post by guest blogger, Bettina Romberg. - Lynne]
The Governments of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have enacted laws mandating that health insurance plans pay for bone marrow donor testing. They passed this law with the intended purpose that bone marrow registries find more donors, and therefore, save more lives. The major donor registry operating in these three states is the Caitlin Raymond International Registry, a non-profit bone marrow donor registry organization at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center. The Registry was recently placed under investigation for allegedly charging above-average rates for testing claims to health insurance companies. Cities such as Manchester, New Hampshire have found that the city worker’s health insurance plan has been charged $4,000 per person. Harvard Pilgrim and Blue Cross Blue Shield also stated that the number of requests for the test had tripled in 2009 and is expected to triple again by the end of 2010. What is behind this story?
It turns out that these news stories are not stating that the Registry is being investigated for its charges or insurance fraud. It is being investigated for trying to increase the number of donors by hiring models to stand at their kiosks set up in shopping malls and sports venues to ask passers-by if they would like to register to become a donor and save a child’s life. The attorneys general of Massachusetts and New Hampshire are concerned about the use of models as donor recruiters because “they question whether people who sign up at a sports event or a mall, lured by a flirtatious model, are fully prepared to go through with the often painful transplant procedure if asked.” (Liz Kowalczyk, Boston.com, December 18, 2010). In other words, the attorneys general offices allege that when people see an attractive woman speaking to them, they suspend all judgement and just sign anything.
The reason this investigation started is due to the insurance companies that saw a surge in these tests, and are forced to pay for them. But rather than questioning the wisdom of the law, and whether or not this kind of a law should have been enacted at all, the Government is conducting this investigation under the banner of “public safety”.
Forcing health insurance to pay for donor testing evidently is just another in a long line of abuses and usurpations that our nanny Government has placed on the health insurance industry. Not only does my health insurance premium pay for bone marrow donor testing at the mall, but it also covers drug and alcohol abuse treatment and other bad lifestyle choices like cigarette smoking and the effects of driving drunk et cetera. My own choices of how I choose to live my life do not matter. I still have to pay for these abuses. The insurance companies are in fact forbidden by law to tailor insurance packages to the real requirements of its customers. This is so that Government remains empowered to issue arbitrary laws to make mandatory claims on insurance companies that are responsible for skyrocketing health insurance costs. In other words, rather than penalizing people for their unhealthy choices, the rest of us are forced to cover those who make these poor decisions about their lifestyles.
The story around the Registry points at the heart of the problem. First, it is an easily identified single target for a witchhunt. Further, it is interesting to note that the true meaning of the Government’s aim is carefully distorted and evaded by the investigation. What is cleverly disguised here are the results of Government meddling in the private decisions of private individuals into their own health and lives as if a citizen is a Government subject with no rights to his own life.
- Bettina Romberg