Fox News host Eric Bolling denied that anyone in the United States has ever been deprived of health care. He's wrong -- millions of people have been denied care or have had their insurance coverage rescinded, denied, or altered by insurance companies due to pre-existing conditions, policy loopholes, and various other reasons. Here are just a few examples.
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Fox Claims That No American Has Been Denied Health Care
Fox's Bolling: "Do You Know Anyone In This Country, Legal Or Illegal, Who [Was] Ever Denied Health Care? Ever?" During a September 26 discussion on the Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare"), The Five co-host Eric Bolling argued to co-host Bob Beckel:
BOLLING: Can I address something you said, Bob? You said health care is a right. Do you know anyone in this country, legal or illegal, who [was] ever denied health care? Ever?
BOLLING: No, no. Right. So therefore, everyone is afforded health care. Obamacare isn't health care. Obamacare is health insurance. In the constitution there's nowhere it says every American should be afforded health insurance. Big difference. [Fox News, The Five, 9/26/13]
Bolling Is Wrong: Here Are Just A Few Examples Of Americans Who Were Denied The Care They Needed
Twelve-Year-Old Died In 2007 From Abscessed Tooth After His Family's Medicaid Lapsed. In 2007, as The Washington Post reported:
Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old homeless child, died Sunday in a District hospital after an infection from a molar spread to his brain.
At the time he fell ill, his family's Medicaid coverage had lapsed. Even on the state plan, his mother said, the children lacked regular dental care and she had great difficulty finding a dentist. [The Washington Post, 3/3/07]
Seventeen-Year-Old's Insurance Revoked After He Tests HIV Positive. According to Huffington Post, in 2009:
The South Carolina Supreme Court has ordered an insurance company to pay $10 million for wrongly revoking the insurance policy of a 17-year-old college student after he tested positive for HIV. The court called the 2002 decision by the insurance company "reprehensible."
Mitchell learned that he had HIV when, while heading to college, he donated blood. Fortis then rescinded his coverage, citing what turned out to be an erroneous note from a nurse in his medical records that indicated that he might have been diagnosed prior to his obtaining his insurance policy.
Before the cancellation of the policy, an underwriter working for Fortis wrote to a committee considering whether or not to rescind his policy: "Technically, we do not have the results of the HIV tests. This is the only entry in the medical records regarding HIV status. Is it sufficient?" The underwriter's concerns were ignored and the rescission went forward. [Huffington Post, 9/17/09]
Woman Denied Coverage For Breast Cancer Because She Wasn't Diagnosed At Correct Clinic. From The Wall Street Journal:
In June 2003, Shirley Loewe went to Good Shepherd Medical Center here with a softball-size lump in her breast and was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer. She didn't know it, but she had just made a big mistake.
Ms. Loewe was uninsured. Under federal law, she could have gotten Medicaid coverage -- and saved herself a lot of hardship -- if she'd gone to a different clinic less than a half-mile away. But by walking through Good Shepherd's doors, Ms. Loewe unwittingly let that opportunity slip and embarked on a four-year journey through the Byzantine U.S. health-care system.
It was an odyssey that would take her to five hospitals, two clinics, two charitable organizations and two nursing homes in two states. She was denied assistance or care at least six times along the way, for reasons that ranged from not being poor enough to not being sick enough.
Ms. Loewe eventually got treatment, but at personal cost and great aggravation. [The Wall Street Journal, 9/13/07]
Woman's Double Mastectomy Denied Over Disputed Acne Treatment. CNN reported that in 2009:
Robin Beaton found out last June she had an aggressive form of breast cancer and needed surgery -- immediately.
Her insurance carrier precertified her for a double mastectomy and hospital stay. But three days before the operation, the insurance company called and told her they had red-flagged her chart and she would not be able to have her surgery.
The reason? In May 2008, Beaton had visited a dermatologist for acne. A word written on her chart was interpreted to mean precancerous, so the insurance company decided to launch an investigation into her medical history.
Beaton's dermatologist begged her insurance provider to go ahead with the surgery.
Still, the insurance carrier decided to rescind her coverage. The company said it had reviewed her medical records and found out that she had misinformed them about some of her medical history.
Beaton had listed her weight incorrectly. She also didn't disclose medication she had taken for a pre-existing heart condition -- medicine she wasn't taking when she originally applied for coverage. [CNN, 6/16/09]
9/11 Responders Without Insurance Face Inferior Coverage For Sustained Injuries. From The New York Times:
The largest health study yet of the thousands of workers who labored at ground zero shows that the impact of the rescue and recovery effort on their health has been more widespread and persistent than previously thought, and is likely to linger far into the future.
The study, released yesterday by doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center, is expected to erase any lingering doubts about the connection between dust from the trade center and numerous diseases that the workers have reported suffering. It is also expected to increase pressure on the federal government to provide health care for sick workers who do not have health insurance.
There should no longer be any doubt about the health effects of the World Trade Center disaster," said Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of Mount Sinai's World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program. "Our patients are sick, and they will need ongoing care for the rest of their lives."
Dr. Herbert called the findings, which will be published tomorrow in Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, "very worrisome," especially because 40 percent of those who went to Mount Sinai for medical screening did not have health insurance, and will thus not get proper medical care. [The New York Times, 9/6/06]
Thousands Of Americans Have Been Denied Health Coverage And Care
Twenty-Five Percent Of Adults Under 65 Say They Or A Family Member Have Been Denied Coverage Or Charged More For Having Pre-existing Condition. According to a June 2013 survey from the Kaiser Foundation, one quarter of respondents under 65 "say that they or a family member has ever been denied insurance or had their premium increased because of their pre-existing condition":
Americans with pre-existing medical conditions often face problems in getting and retaining good health insurance coverage, an issue dealt with directly by ACA in its "guaranteed issue" provision, which prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals on the basis of health status or pre-existing medical conditions beginning in 2014. The June survey finds that roughly half (49 percent) of adults under age 65 say they or someone in their household has a pre-existing condition, and many of them report problems related to getting and keeping insurance.
One quarter (25 percent) of these individuals (14 percent of all non-elderly adults) say that they or a family member has ever been denied insurance or had their premium increased because of their pre-existing condition. Further, nearly one in ten (9 percent) of these individuals say that in the past year, they or someone in their household has passed up a job opportunity, stayed at a job they would have quit otherwise, or decided not to retire in order to maintain their health coverage. [Kaiser Foundation, 6/19/13]
Forty-Five Thousand Americans Die Every Year Due To Lack Of Insurance. In September 2009, a Harvard Medical School study found that a "lack of coverage can be tied to about 45,000 deaths a year in the United States," The New York Times reported. The paper explained:
Researchers from Harvard Medical School say the lack of coverage can be tied to about 45,000 deaths a year in the United States -- a toll that is greater than the number of people who die each year from kidney disease.
The Harvard study found that people without health insurance had a 40 percent higher risk of death than those with private health insurance -- as a result of being unable to obtain necessary medical care. The risk appears to have increased since 1993, when a similar study found the risk of death was 25 percent greater for the uninsured.
The increase in risk, according to the study, is likely to be a result of at least two factors. One is the greater difficulty the uninsured have today in finding care, as public hospitals have closed or cut back on services. The other is improvements in medical care for insured people with treatable chronic conditions like high blood pressure. [The New York Times, 9/17/09]
Study Found That In 2010, Three Americans Died Every Hour From Lack Of Coverage. According to a June 2012 report from Families USA, "Across the nation, 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010," which works out to "three every hour." The report also found:
Between 2005 and 2010, the number of people who died prematurely each year due to a lack of health coverage rose from 20,350 to 26,100.
Between 2005 and 2010, the total number of people who died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage was 134,120.
Each and every state sees residents die prematurely due to a lack of health insurance. [Families USA, June 2012]
Over 7.5 Million People Denied Medical Care By Health Plans In First Six Months Of Bush's First Term. According to data from the Census Bureau and a report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed by Families USA, "[M]ore than 7.5 million people experienced a problem with their health plan that resulted in a denial or delay of health care" in the month from President George W. Bush's inauguration to June 2001. Families USA wrote:
[A]pproximately 18.1 million Americans per year between 18 and 64 years of age experience a problem with their health plan that results in a denial or delay of medical care. [Families USA, 6/21/01]