Why the Denial of Medical Coverage is more than an Insurance Issue

There have been some articles going around that are about the “stunning” reports of insurance companies denying care medical claims and care without looking at patient medical records. These headlines gloss over the real issue. Articles are vague, implying that denials are something that “could” happen to someone else but aren’t serious because these are supposedly rare.

Let’s be real. There’s nothing “stunning” or “surprising” about this. This isn’t “shocking” or a “new development”. Being denied health care from insurance providers is just as common as having a cold. Us disabled people have been telling the world about these practices for decades. We are denied all of the time, and our deaths are often caused by a lack of access to care more than our disabilities themselves.

Being denied medical care shouldn’t have to “happen to you” for you to believe that these are life and death decisions made by people who profit by killing us. Even when this happens to ableds, they STILL don’t believe that this is a constant issue. Quite often, for ableds, the response to medication and care methods being denied by insurance is to simply find something else that would be easier to have approved or a rephrasing in doctor’s orders. That is, until certain medical care is vital to their remaining able-bodied.

Rubber stamp impression of the word "Denied" in red ink
Image Description: Rubber stamp impression of the word “DENIED” in red ink

At this point, ableds become outraged that they will end up disabled. Ableds are furious that something they often consider as optional is denying their abled-bodied sense of entitlement.

As though abled people are the only ones who should be entitled to life-saving care.
As though their lives are the only lives worth saving.
As though an able-bodied life is the only life worth living.

Ableds have more power to fight against insurance denials. Reporting agencies and legal services are fully accessible to them. When ableds fight against systemic misconduct, they are taken seriously and are able to leverage that to get the care they need; especially if they aren’t of other highly marginalised demographics.

When ableds are sufficed they won’t have to fear disability, instead of using their tiny taste of what disabled people go through every single day as motivation to use their able-bodied “privilege” to advocate for change, their reaction is often the opposite. They feel even more entitled to something they had to fight for (“if I could do it, anyone can” mentality), whilst still dismissing the fact that disabled people die from these systems being inaccessible for us to fight against in the first place.

The entire concept of health insurance needs a complete overhaul. We can go on and on about what is wrong with how disgusting insurance practices are and what needs to be done to hold companies accountable. But this never going to happen until people realise that these abuses are not occasional occurrences, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable of our population.

We need reporting systems that are accessible. We need legal systems that aren’t cost-prohibitive and are accessible. We need accessibility on our terms, not subject to the approval of someone else who has to be convinced that our accessibility is necessary.

We need to be included in discussions about our own care and when we voice discrimination against us. When we are describing the ways we are disregarded, we need to be respected as people who are speaking from trauma. We need to be taken seriously and never viewed as being a “burden” or “too much.” Medical care is vital for us to continue living.

We, as disabled people, are entitled to life-saving care.
We, as disabled people, have lives that are worth saving.
We, as disabled people, have lives that are worth living.

Disabled people, especially those of us who are the most marginalised, need to be taken seriously and valued as vital members of society. It is long past time for us to be treated as such.

Author: Blind in Philadelphia

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