Insurance company red tape, and the toll it takes on families

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By Consumers Union on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Mark Gendernalik just wishes he could focus on being a dad instead of having to constantly fight insurance company red tape to get the medical care his daughter needs.

Mark’s 2-year-old daughter Sidney started having seizures when she was three months old. Ever since, he has been fighting insurance company bureaucracy and a series of frustrating delays in the authorization of his daughter’s care.

Excessive insurance claim delays and denials were the subject of a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee hearing earlier this month. The hearing featured testimony by Mark about his family’s experience, along with testimony from a pair of former insurance company executives about industry practices that often put profits before patients’ needs.

Mark’s testimony was particularly poignant and helped underscore why healthcare reform is so urgently needed:

“The toll it took on my family will never be forgotten,” he testified. ” The constant hassle of getting referrals for the correct services. The run-around to get the needed tests. The over a week recovery time lost to my daughter while we languished waiting for her meds. The months lost to an inaccurate diagnosis. The battle to get the medication approved…Consumers should not have to endure this kind of life and health threatening hassle. I hope Congress will find better ways to ensure that insurers deliver on the care they promise.”

The hearing and Mark’s testimony were featured in stories on CBS Evening News and ABC’s Good Morning America.

Families like Mark’s need better protections to ensure that claims are handled fairly and in a timely manner. That’s why Consumers Union is urging Congress to make sure that healthcare reforms include provisions that will expedite appeals when claims are denied, among other reforms.

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