NBC: Health Insurance Caps Leave Patients Stranded
Mary Wusterbarth thought her toddler was struggling with an ear infection when she seemed sluggish. Instead, a virus had attacked the little girl’s heart, damaging it beyond repair. Brea needed a transplant. Within three weeks of a 2007 doctor visit, the 20-month-old had exhausted the $1 million lifetime maximum on her health insurance. Her parents have scrambled ever since for ways to cover thousands of dollars in monthly medical costs.
“We have no idea what kind of financial future we have,” said Wusterbarth, of Wake Forest, N.C. “The medical bills come almost daily. There’s never an end.” Insurers set lifetime limits to keep rates low on some policies, but holders are learning that individual caps that seemed large quickly max out as health care costs soar. Several patient advocacy groups are prodding insurers to raise the caps, which generally don’t adjust for inflation.