In Michigan, families with autistic children are considering suing health insurance companies to force them to provide care for their children. Insurance companies give many reasons why they do not cover these deserving children, but it is really about costs. In this market economy, if a company can offer less expensive premiums by excluding coverage of individuals with rare disorders, the company will gain an advantage in the market. Even though it will cost everyone a few more dollars, insurance companies should be forced to cover them.
It is reported that families lose their homes, retirement funds, declare bankruptcy and even have to give up jobs to take care of their children. All of those homes that are lost lowers the value of other homes. The lose of the retirement funds means there is less money for investment, savings and people have to work longer into their lives, keeping jobs from the young. Each dollar that is lost in bankruptcy by companies must be made up by raising the cost of everything. This raises the cost of living for all of us. It could be more than the few dollars more in premiums that insurance companies would need to charge to cover their cost for the additional coverage.
But it is more than money that we lose. It is a bit of our own humanity and community. We didn’t gather in communities at the beginning so that we could continue on just as we still lived as individuals in the wild. Communities were formed so that everyone could share in many of the responsibilities that individuals have in common. As the community expects each individual to live up to their own responsibility so each individual expects the community to do its part. To intentionally leaving out even one individual from the full benefits of the community is a violation of that pact.
Insurance is part of the market’s answer to help the community work. It is a way of sharing the responsibility for many of the dangers and risks that all of us will come across. For the community to continue to allow insurance companies to exclude families with children that have autism is to keep them from receiving the full benefit of the community. This violation of the pact between the individual and the community needs to be corrected.
This should not be fought out in the courts. It will be time consuming and cost even more money that could be used for the benefit of the families that are in need. It will take many years to work through a solution. In the mean time, the community will prevent many more children from receiving the care and treatment they need.
The state legislature needs to mandate that insurance companies provide the coverage that these children need – now.