Healthy? Insurance Companies Differ

LA Times : (h/t NonnyMouse)

Scott Svonkin joined the Los Angeles County Commission on Insurance 10 years ago because he was concerned about an emerging problem: people losing health coverage. Since then, the ranks of uninsured Americans have swelled to more than 46 million.

Svonkin almost became one of them.

It happened after he left a comfortable government job as a legislative chief of staff to start his own marketing and public affairs consulting business. Late last year he started shopping around for health insurance for himself, his expectant wife and his young daughter.

He knew he'd pay more without an employer picking up most of the tab. And he knew he'd have to fill out a medical questionnaire because, unlike job-based coverage, individual insurance in California is contingent on an applicant's health. But that didn't concern him because, he said, "I'm healthy as a horse, never smoked and have had no major surgery."

As it turned out, Svonkin was rejected by not just one but three of California's biggest health insurers, which cited his history of asthma, among other things.

"I couldn't buy it at any price," said Svonkin, 40, who lives in Sherman Oaks. "I remember thinking, 'This can't be happening to me.' "

Svonkin is part of what experts say is a largely hidden aspect of the nation's health insurance crisis: the uninsurables, people whom insurance companies won't touch, even though they can afford to pay high premiums. Some, such as Svonkin, pay steep rates for lean coverage from the state's high-risk insurance pool. Others simply go without. Read on...


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