A Baby and his Obesity?
How best to illustrate the ridiculous nature of the private health insurance business model? How about denying health insurance to a healthy 4 month old baby boy, breast fed from birth, who happens to be in the 99th percentile for height and weight (17 pounds). Here is the news article to prove this happened (find it here). Here's the story:
Alex Lange is a chubby, dimpled, healthy and happy 4-month-old.
By the numbers, Alex is in the 99th percentile for height and weight for babies his age. Insurers don't take babies above the 95th percentile, no matter how healthy they are otherwise.
"I could understand if we could control what he's eating. But he's 4 months old. He's breast-feeding. We can't put him on the Atkins diet or on a treadmill," joked his frustrated father, Bernie Lange, a part-time news anchor at KKCO-TV in Grand Junction. "There is just something absurd about denying an infant."
Bernie and Kelli Lange tried to get insurance for their growing family with Rocky Mountain Health Plans when their current insurer raised their rates 40 percent after Alex was born. They filled out the paperwork and awaited approval, figuring their family is young and healthy. But the broker who was helping them find new insurance called Thursday with news that shocked them.
" 'Your baby is too fat,' she told me," Bernie said.
Up until then, the Langes had been happy with Alex's healthy appetite and prodigious weight gain. His pediatrician had never mentioned any weight concerns about the baby they call their "happy little chunky monkey."
His 2-year-old brother, Vincent, had been a colicky baby who had trouble putting on pounds. At birth, Alex weighed a normal 8 1/4 pounds. On a diet of strictly breast milk, his weight has more than doubled. He weighs about 17 pounds and is about 25 inches long. "I'm not going to withhold food to get him down below that number of 95," Kelli Lange said. "I'm not going to have him screaming because he's hungry."
By these standards, I was uninsurable during infancy, as were two of my five children. I agree with the baby's father, who said that his gripe is with the general state of the American health care system. Underwriting is a useless, costly, wasteful enterprise that is a self-serving practice of the American health insurance industry. It is time to decide to take care of healthy babies by ridding society of the parasitic health insurance industry.
Dr. Joe Jarvis