VIDEOS: Insurance Company to Peggy Robertson: Want Coverage? Get Sterilized… and By the Way, Your Son is Too Small

Remember a few weeks back the story of the baby who was denied insurance coverage because he was "too big?"  As in 90th percentile on the weight and growth charts (the efficacy of which as a mother I have questioned numerous times over the years).

Well, now we have the case of Peggy Robertson, a woman who testified at a hearing last week co-sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is conducting a national campaign for health reform.

As the following series of videos shows, Peggy’s story takes us further down the rabbit hole of the insurance and health care crisis in this country, as if any of us thought there was any further to go.

First, Peggy, who had (gasp!!!) a c-section when giving birth to one of her sons is told she can not be covered by United Health Care’s Golden Rule Insurance unless she got sterilized. In a written letter.

Because of her lack of coverage, she is unable to afford a third child.

Anyone else see the irony here? On one hand, we are in a battle to allow women to prevent pregnancy when they desire not to become pregnant, and on the other, women who want to have a child are denied coverage if they have had a c-section and told to get sterilized! “Gender discrimination” is written all over these policies with a massive Sharpie.

Peggy’s story, however, does not stop there. She is told her son can’t be insured first, because he is a "breath holder" and then a year later because he is "too small".

"We aren’t large people small people, my husband and I," says Robertson, "so of course he is small."

While these stories have remained in the shadows, at least now they are beginning to get some small amount of coverage in the mainstream media.

Perhaps the greatest shock is not that these stories are coming out and that they are absurd and demeaning on their face.  Perhaps the greatest shock is that so many stories like this are out there untold, that countless Americans trying just to get through daily life have to fight to be insured, to get health care, to get affordable coverage for normal conditions, and then fight to get reimbursed if they can get insured at all.

It is a wonder that Peggy has kept her sanity, though perhaps she knew that losing it would provide another reason for denial of insurance coverage.

I say the insurance industry as currently constructed is too sick to function and should be declared a national "pre-existing" condition of which we should rid ourselves permanently.

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  • crowepps

    I say the insurance industry as currently constructed is too sick to function and should be declared a national “pre-existing” condition of which we should rid ourselves permanently.

    They could at least use the correct vocabulary, like “denial of claims department” or “refusal of coverage application”. Why do you think they’re fighting so incredibly hard to thwart a public option? A lot of people who aren’t sick and not likely to get sick, their favorite current customers insured out of sensible foresight, just might switch over to the public option where there isn’t a fat profit for the company built into the premiums. What would happen to them if EVERYBODY chose the public option?

  • cmarie

    Oh don’t worry. Everyone will “choose” the public option once its the only one left. No insurance company could compete with a plan that has access to all our tax dollars and even if they could, they won’t be allowed to write new policies after the first five years have passed. Regarding Peggy Robertson, she makes an excellent arguement against “United Health Care’s Golden Rule Insurance” but that doesn’t have to mean that we give up on everything but the public option forever. Let’s say you go to a realtor to sell your house. They suck. So what do you do? You probably don’t just chuck everything and let the government takeover your life. You find a new realtor! Peggy needs a new health insurer. Thank God she lives in a country where there are several options and she can select the one that is best for her. Maybe she has to light a fire under her employer or her union but the point is there are other options out there. If this happened under a public plan and there were no other options, then there would be something to complain about.

  • crowepps

    You do realize that the ‘public option’ mean premiums paid by potential patients would be sent in and accumulated through a government agency and then the claims would be paid back to whichever people actually get sick from those accumulated premiums, yes?  Paying medical claims directly with tax dollars is what Medicare or Medicaid does – you know, welfare for the poor and for old people.  The ‘public option’ is more of a federally managed insurance pool with no profit motive because there are no stockholders.


    The costs, of course, are comparable to those the government cheerfully spends elsewhere for a lot less reason —

    " The Congressional Budget Office, reporting back on the cost of two-of-three House bills, pegged the cost of a health reform package that included a so-called ‘public option’ at $871 billion — less than the $900 billion projected by the Obama administration."


    I know, how about we reform the medical care crisis INSTEAD OF attacking Iran!!


    "To date, $915.1 billion dollars have been allocated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

    The total economic impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated at $1.6 trillion by 2009, a congressional committee said in a report released Tuesday.

  • lineline

    Except that often there are NOT other options out there for her to buy into privately. Often ALL of the insurance companies will take part in such crazy claims. For instance there are many families where a child will get sick, or say have bad asthma, every insurance company tells them the kid needs to be well to get insurance, and so the family has to turn down job offers in order to qualify for medicaid. or goes without. such as

  • cmarie

    I’ll probably regret asking this crowepps but, how did you find Iran in this story? If you have suggestions about foriegn policy contact Obama. Talk to a few Canadians and Europeans before you line up for the public option. My cousin (37) and a carpenter lost half his right index finger in an accident last week. The hospital didn’t make any effort to reattach the digit but don’t worry because he’s left handed anyway and it is “healing nicely”. Won’t we all be happy to hear that logic after chucking the options we have now, because someone found a plan that they can’t afford or that wants someone to get sterilized. Are you aware that everyone in Zimbabwe has health insurance? Yes, its guaranteed by the government. Of course the right to government mandated insurance doesn’t mean that there are anywhere near enough doctors or hospitals or even an asprin around but I’m sure it means a great deal to everyone to know the government “guarantees” their insurance.

  • crowepps

    You may not be aware of it, but there is right-wing pressure to start a THIRD war, this time against Iran, at a similiar cost to the other two wars we are involved in. Since a war with Iran would cost approximately the same amount as health care reform, I suggested that we let somebody else carry the can in ‘fixing’ Iran and reform health care instead.

  • cmarie

    I never said I wanted to go to war with Iran. From what I understand on that subject, Obama’s much more interested in Pakistan, but maybe your are right and lives and money can be saved just by avoiding Iran. wonderful! but just because money is saved doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown away, especially when you consider what that would do to all our mortality rates. Although Canadians usually are less likely to smoke or be obese they die of cancer at a much faster rate than Americans. Mostly that is because we have much better access to mamograms, pap smears and colon cancer screening and cancer is only one example. Maybe access to medicare and medicaid need to be expanded. Probably something needs to be done about the insane cost of medical school and malpractice insurance which doubtless increases our health care costs. However, going the way of Europe and Canada is slow suicide for everyone, but the senators, who have excluded themsleves and their families from the experiment altogether.