Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chad's Takes

Is it possible that health insurance companies think of rape as a "preexisting condition"? Well, sort of, according to the enlightening Huffington Post article linked above. A rape victim was denied insurance because she took anti-AIDS drugs for a short period of time after the rape. When this was disclosed during the application process, she was denied any care because of the complicating factors arising from the drug use. She was promised a look-see, of sorts, after three years to ensure that she does not have AIDS.

As a result of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, it was quickly discovered that health insurance companies are not required to disclose how often "claims are denied and for what reasons". Thus, it is possible, by direct and indirect means, that health insurance companies are discriminating against particular people. In particular, health insurance company practices may deny coverage because of a preexisting condition that is physical (e.g., sexually transmitted disease) or mental (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder; PTSD) that commonly afflicts victims of rape.

The ACLU believes this is a form of discrimination:

"I think it's important to point out that health plans are not denying coverage based on the fact that someone was raped," said Pisano of the insurance trade group. "But PTSD could be a factor in denied coverage."

"That might not be a discriminatory action, but it certainly would seem to have a discriminatory impact," said Sandra Park, staff attorney at the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. "Insurance discrimination against rape victims will only further discourage them from coming forward to law enforcement and seeking medical help."

Yet another reason the thought of "preexisting conditions" precluding one's ability to obtain health insurance is mind-bogglingly immoral and deranged.


The inane response to the notorious "Balloon Boy" incident is reason to be concerned about today's media. I happened to be at a car dealership at the time of the event, and TV coverage was playing in the dealer's lobby. A group of people huddled around the television while the "dramatic" footage of a silver flying saucer breezed across the sky. The coverage of the landing was particularly intense, as most crash-balloon landings are.

In this age of 24/7 "news", events like these are covered in voyeuristic, "no-news" flavor. The incomprehensibly employed and idiotic Rick Sanchez said at one point just after the crash landing: "This is one of those stories that really will tell itself shortly here." Dude, profound. For me, it was already quite telling.

As feelings behind the scenes began to emerge that the boy probably was never on the balloon, obvious to me from the get-go given the behavior/design of the balloon, anchors were uncomfortable suggesting the idea that the event was a hoax. CNN later credited itself, specifically the actually ignorant Wolf Blitzer, with exposing the event as a hoax. When the child's startlingly truthful words cried out "I thought we did this for the show," the jig was up...except maybe to Blitzer, who inexplicably didn't immediately follow up with "Oh, really?"

But the sensationalism that is today's journalism had a story that engaged everyone, huddling around the TVs like dogs at feeding time. The "no-information" news cycle that became a laughingstock for a family also exposed today's media for what it is: a tabloid.

Matt Roush, TV Guide critic, put it best:

No one is served by fact-free reporting, and the resulting tabloid crush that kept this ridiculous family in the spotlight into the next morning was the sort of spectacle that was worthy of little Falcon puking on air. I know how he feels.