Dialysis Patient Citizens, a leading group for kidney patients, has filed a lawsuit involving Idaho’s Draft Bulletin 16-04, which would allow insurance companies to act as regulators, screening patients relying on charitable financial aid programs and deciding whether to accept their premium payments. It would be on nonprofits to prove they don’t stand to gain financially by helping patients pay for their insurance premiums.
Patients in need who have cancer, bleeding disorders and other chronic conditions often rely on assistance programs to afford their health insurance.
For example, this new complaint mentions kidney patient Jessica Torrey of Twin Falls, Idaho, who had to quit her job because of the debilitating nature of kidney failure and relies on Social Security disability payments to get by. However, Blue Cross of Idaho (BCI) recently rejected her premium assistance payments, putting her coverage in question.
“Most of the kidney failure patients affected by this policy … will not be able to afford their premiums as a result of their low-income status, and will be terminated from their health insurance,” the Dialysis Patient Citizens complaint states. “BCI’s policy discriminates against individuals with disabilities solely because of their disability.”
This is yet another tactic insurance companies are deploying as they look to move patients with chronic conditions and illnesses off of their plans, even though the Affordable Care Act aimed to ensure they would provide coverage to people with preexisting conditions. And it must stop.
In the case of chronic kidney disease, we know most patients receiving financial aid from AKF have annual household incomes of less than $20,000.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was intended to protect Americans from the type of blatant discrimination we are seeing from insurers,” said Hrant Jamgochian, chief executive officer of Dialysis Patient Citizens, in a news announcement about the Idaho proposal. “When a person’s kidneys fail, he or she is faced with a host of physical, emotional, and financial challenges – beyond anything the rest of us can imagine. Rather than helping these patients in their hour of greatest need, (Blue Cross of Idaho) wants to abandon them.”
If you live in Idaho, please send a comment (click here for a prepared letter you can personalize) asking the Department of Insurance to withdraw Draft Bulletin 16-04. For-profit insurance companies shouldn’t have the power to decide whether a patient is able to use financial aid.
If you live outside of Idaho, please join the Coalition by clicking here. We’ll keep you updated on efforts that matter to you.