My Smarter Half

Hank Stern is an Ohio agent, a good friend, and the guy who is responsible for getting me involved in (some might say addicted to) blogging. He usually takes the more cerebral approach to things while I am more the curmudgeon who has earned the nickname “Krusty”.

Personalities aside, he comes up with some really good stuff from time to time and I feel compelled to steal it. This is one of those times.

As we’ve repeatedly shown, adding mandated benefits to health plans increases premiums for everyone, while rarely addressing underlying costs. Touted by special interest groups, it’s sometimes difficult for politicians to say “no.” And insurance companies make attractive targets: easily portrayed as “the bad guys,” one almost imagines carrier CEOs twirling handlebar mustaches while grinning at how they’ve once again shortchanged their clients.

Which is why an email we recently received from For Grace is so disturbing and disingenuous:

“Chronic pain attacks 76.2 million Americans each day. When those people visit their physician in search of medicine or treatments to help alleviate their suffering, many find their health plans prevent them from getting the prescriptions their doctors have deemed best to treat their condition. Some of the ways this is done include little known practices such as “step therapy,” “fail first” and “therapeutic switching.”

For Grace is a nonprofit advocacy group which claims to be “devoted to ensuring the ethical and equal treatment of all women in pain.” While that sounds noble, their email betrays a rather twisted portrayal of how the system really works.
For starters, insurance companies have no power to dictate to providers how they treat their patients, nor can carriers prohibit their insureds “from getting the prescriptions their doctors have deemed best.” Insurance companies have the power only to decide how much (if any) they will pay toward the cost of those treatments.

The rest of his take is equally informative. InsureBlog is a fan favorite with a wide selection of readers.

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