President Barack Obama, seeking to make a case for health-insurance regulation, told a poignant story to a joint session of Congress last week. An Illinois man getting chemotherapy was dropped from his insurance plan when his insurer discovered an unreported gallstone the patient hadn't known about.
"They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it," the president said in the nationally televised address.
In fact, the man, Otto S. Raddatz, didn't die because the insurance company rescinded his coverage once he became ill, an act known as recission. The efforts of his sister and the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan got Raddatz's policy reinstated within three weeks of his April 2005 rescission and secured a life-extending stem-cell transplant for him. Raddatz died this year, nearly four years after the insurance showdown.
So, obviously, the White House should have done a better job vetting this story--I'm sure they're appropriately embarrassed. And, just as obviously, it's a legitimate story for the Journal to run. Still, I'm not entirely sure what the upshot is. The guy's insurance company really did rescind his insurance coverage when he had an advanced form of cancer and needed a life-saving treatment. Yes, the Illinois attorney general helped reinstate it. But that's not exactly a scale-able model, is it? Are the rest of us supposed to hope the Illinois AG comes to our rescue if we find ourselves in the same situation? What if you live in, say, Indiana? Please explain to me how this health care model would work...