Friday, February 12, 2010

Olbermann's Health Care Lies 2

A commenter on my earlier post is saying that the treatment for Kyler Van Knocker is not experimental, that it is approved and normal and that other insurance companies do pay for it. That may very well be true, and if so then a wrong is indeed being perpetrated that needs to be made right.

But my comment was not on the underlying story, but rather on the story as reported by Keith Olbermann, which was that experimental treatment was being wrongfully denied based on cost. Olbermann is maintaining that insurance companies are evil if they deny experimental treatment, because in doing so they are putting their profits ahead of peoples lives, and my post was to refute Olbermann’s claim. And that was his point; he did say that the treatment was experimental/unapproved in his Tuesday night comment:

Kyler Van Nocker has cancer. It was in remission, it‘s back now. The doctors have a do-or-die treatment that his insurance company considers investigational/experimental so it will not pay for it. This is particularly odd because the insurer is HealthAmerica, covered two earlier investigational/experimental therapies for Van Nocker, stuff that had not been approved yet by the FDA.

He repeated that in his Thursday night commentary:

When he contracted veno-occlusive disease, they asked his insurance company, HealthAmerica, division of Coventry, to cover a drug not approved by the FDA. Thumbs up from HealthAmerica, Coventry on that.

And in the Thursday interview:

This insurance company, HealthAmerica, Coventry—what was its reason that it gave you for not covering the cost of this?

VAN NOCKER: They deemed the treatment to be experimental.

OLBERMANN: Didn‘t they—didn‘t they—isn‘t it not, in many respects, the same kind of experimental, not FDA approved treatment that they approved previously that just happened to cost a little less?

He never attempted to refute the insurance company’s claim about the nature of the treatment. Indeed he seemed to fully accept that premise that it was experimental, and merely insisted that it should be paid for by the insurance company despite that fact. That is the “lie” which I decried; the claim by Olbermann that the insurance company is evil because it is refusing to pay for experimental treatment. If the treatment is, in fact, not experimental then he should report that and argue that case, not make these rants about refusal to pay for experimental treatments.

He also claimed that the Van Knockers were being ripped off by the insurance company, paying more in premiums than the insurance company was paying out in medical bills:

The company reporting a loss ratio of 82 percent—meaning 82 cents of every dollar they got from the Van Nocker family went to treatment and 18 cents went to things like Wise‘s $23 million compensation.

That is patently false. The family has paid a very small fraction of the medical bills incurred by their child, and Olbermann knows that.

I would not disagree with the point of view that the Van Knockers should not be bankrupted by this tragedy, but that is a different topic, for another day.

1 comment:

bruce said...

I knew right away that the point of the post (and subsequent) commentary) was about the accuracy of the reporting, not the accuracy of the medical and insurance industry. Inaccurate reporting and twisting of facts and mis /dis information by the media is a major problem. Thanks for trying to set the record straight - and to those who debate you and together clarifying the issues.

Post a Comment