Anna Haas' gynecologist found some precancerous cells in a suspicious looking bump during her annual pap smear.
The doctor advised the 26 year old to undergo a colposcopy, which would examine her cervix and remove the suspicious bump.
After Haas followed her doctor's advice, she switched from her parents' Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan to a Blue Cross Blue Shield individual plan, noted AlterNet.org.
Haas made sure that there was no uninsured time between the switch; she covered all the lawyerball health care bases, so she thought.
However, when the young woman applied for her individual plan online, she noted her colposcopy.
In response, Blue Cross Blue Shield approved Haas for the plan she wanted, but added that she would not have coverage for women’s preventative health maintenance.
Haas told AlterNet.org:
I was really scared. I had always heard about friends who didn’t have health insurance, horror stories of what they had to go through with their illnesses … I’m somebody who has never really been sick, never had a major surgery. This is the most minor thing I could possibly have, and I took preventative measures to get it removed. And I was still denied coverage for all gynecological care.
Her father, David Haas, an infectious diseases physician, recalled:
I figured it was a misunderstanding—a clerical thing—and it would not be an issue. Then we got a response from BCBS underwriters who review requests like these, and it said they would stand by their decision and she would not be covered for anything related to the abnormal pap smear.
After numerous denials, David sent Blue Cross Blue Shield a letter in 2012 proposing a medical panel at the 2012 Vanderbilt Infectious Diseases Grand Rounds that would include himself, his daughter and the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.
David said the title of discussion panel would be: “Understanding Insurance Policies on Pre-Existing Conditions and Women’s Health," and include a subtitle, “What every parent should know.”
David soon received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield saying that his daughter would be still denied, but that was quickly followed by another letter stating that she would be covered as of April 1, 2012.
Blue Cross Blue Shield refused to comment to AlterNet.org, but David said:
The insurance company found a way to deny something for my daughter that I think the overwhelming majority of people would not be able to fight against. This took a lot of consistent time and effort over multiple letters to client coverage. It also took quite a bit of knowledge on my part to understand what the meaning was of the abnormal pap smear, and, if properly handled, it should not have any detrimental effect on a person’s life.
Fortunately, pre-existing health conditions may no longer be used by health insurance companies to deny health coverage as of January 1, 2014, because of Obamacare, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
The only exception to this rule are individual health insurance policies that were "grandfathered" (bought before March 23, 2010).
This exception was added by the Obama administration in response to Republicans who were furious when people's substandard health care plans were being canceled by insurance companies. Many Americans liked their awful health coverage plans and demanded to keep them, reported Mother Jones.
Ironically, GOP leaders were equally angry about this exception, which only lasts until 2016, noted RollCall.com.
Sources: AlterNet.org, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, RollCall.com, Mother Jones
Image Credit: Blue Cross Blue Shield Logo