Denied insurance

Published 7:36 am Thursday, September 17, 2009

My thanks to Scott Bute for answering well for us both (Sept. 14) to Mr. Helgerson’s charges (Sept. 11) that we are lacking in compassion for the poor by our opposition to HR 3200, the congressional version of the health reform bill. What Mr. Helgerson does not know is that it is largely due to my commitment to the poor that I, myself, have been denied health insurance the majority of my adult life.

In my younger years, it was because I chose to work with persons struggling with physical and mental challenges and mental illnesses. Despite working 50-60 hours a week, I was kept below 40 hours a week in any one job so that I did not qualify for health insurance. In later years, it was because of my choice to leave a comfortable position as a pastor in the U.S. (with full health benefits) to serve in a poorer country struggling after a decade of war.

At that point, my own denomination denied me coverage because I did not meet their criteria of earning the equivalent of the minimum (American) pastor’s salary. I chose to live on one-third that amount so that I could serve the poor. Meanwhile, I was denied coverage by another provider based on supposed pre-existing conditions despite being remarkably healthy. Having “inquired into” various medical concerns, I was disqualified, despite healthy diagnoses on record.

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Having been denied once, I was later denied by other providers. Adding insult to injury, for over a decade as a student I was required to pay health insurance premiums during the healthiest years of life without any credit accruing to later years when I would be in need.

So I understand personally and well the need for health care reform. Nevertheless, I cannot support HR 3200 with its hidden provisions for things I find morally objectionable as abortion and Planned Parenthood offices in every school. Mr. Helgerson should read the bill, as I am sure that he, too, would find much to disagree with. Thankfully, cooler heads may be prevailing; by some reports, much-needed revisions are being made in the bill precisely because people have been willing to voice their objections to its flaws.

Since that is the point of public debate, we should applaud all who have spoken up, including Al, who is to be commended for his advocacy on behalf of the poor.

Nancy Overgaard


Albert Lea