I haven’t been dwelling much on healthcare reform despite its current time in the media spotlight. I do think most people think something should change, and we all probably agree that any change will take some time and care. But if there is a change will it help or hurt the treatment of the people we love who have celiac disease? No one can say for certain right now. But I’ve seen a few recent articles which appear to be shedding some light healthcare and celiac disease.
Private Insurance & Celiac
On Tuesday, a story by the Washington Post and Kaiser Health News looked closely at several issues affecting families who purchase their own insurance and whether any of those issues will change with any upcoming health reform.
“New rules being debated on Capitol Hill would mean consumers couldn’t be rejected because they have health problems, take prescription drugs or are disabled. Insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, would offer a range of policies, possibly including a public or government-run option. Government subsidies would help millions of people buy insurance. And nearly all Americans would be required to have insurance or face a penalty for opting not to do so.” – Kaiser Health News
One example in the article was the Minor family in Georgia who has a daughter with Crohn’s disease and a son with celiac disease. They pay out-of-network deductibles and fees for their children’s treatments – costing them in the thousands each year. The article suggested how healthcare reforms may impact this family.
“Exchanges set up to allow the self-employed to purchase coverage could result in more insurance options for families such as the Minors. The proposals before Congress require insurers to provide “adequate” networks of doctors and hospitals. In addition, the ban on insurers’ rejecting applicants with preexisting medical problems could allow them to qualify for a different plan. But there is nothing in the proposals that would specifically cap out-of-network charges. The family earns too much to qualify for subsidies.” – Kaiser Health News
The above quote mentioned a potential “ban on insurers’ rejecting applicants with preexisting medical problems…” –that is another issue some people with celiac disease run into. Conversations on celiac.com have discussed celiacs’ experiences with private health insurance – some say they have been told they were uninsurable.
One celiac pondered on the celiac.com forum: “If celiac is all about the diet then why are we uninsurable?” Meaning, as long as you’re on the diet you’re healthy, why not cover us. For now, you should check with your own state about any laws they have for health insurance companies regarding preexisting conditions.
Debating Government or Public Healthcare
Americans certainly aren’t sure what they would get if Congress did pass a public healthcare option, and that scares many people. Many other countries have good coverage for treating celiac disease, including Europe.
“In Britain…patients found to have celiac disease are prescribed gluten-free products. In Italy, sufferers are given a stipend to spend on gluten-free food.” –The New York Times
If a new government healthcare plan offers subsidies for gluten-free food like some European countries, celiacs might welcome it. In the US, the cost for gluten-free food typically runs 3 times higher than traditional food, which can be a hardship for some Americans. But depending on any government plan that’s put forward, it is possible we could be giving up some coverage somewhere else.
Is there a conclusion?
The American Celiac Disease Alliance keeps close tabs on all things celiac or gluten-free that go on in Washington, DC. Its website says so-far-so-good with all things celiac-related:
“Congress is serious about reforming our nation’s health care system and evaluating several options. So far, it appears that the needs of individuals with celiac disease, and others with chronic medical conditions, are being addressed.”- American Celiac Disease Alliance
If there’s something you don’t like, make sure you sound off with your own representative. You can also make your voice heard with the ACDA’s help if you like. Check out its site for more information on how you can contact your legislator about concerns regarding celiac disease.