Sparing a thought for insurers

In the last week, I’ve become concerned for our friends residing in the claims departments of health insurers.I think they’ve fallen into a spiral of compulsion and are finding it difficult to free themselves. My concern has stemmed from an obesity conference I recently attended, courtesy of Al Noor hospital. During the presentations, I was alarmed to hear a Saudi GP declaring his exasperation with insurance companies that refuse to fund treatment for obesity.

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By  Joanne Bladd Published  May 8, 2006

|~|Money2.jpg|~|Once you're sick enough, all this could be yours|~|In the last week, I’ve become concerned for our friends residing in the claims departments of health insurers.I think they’ve fallen into a spiral of compulsion and are finding it difficult to free themselves.

My concern has stemmed from an obesity conference I recently attended, courtesy of Al Noor hospital. During the presentations, I was alarmed to hear a Saudi GP declaring his exasperation with insurance companies that refuse to fund treatment for obesity. It would appear, from the murmurs of agreement, that this is a standard policy, certainly across the UAE. Apparently, while insurers are happy to fund the medical complications that result from obesity, such as diabetes and hypertension, they baulk at the idea of treating the
condition itself.

Frankly, this strikes me as absurd. It’s a decision that flies in the face of both basic logic (it would cost far less to implement preventive measures; it’s a simple fact that the sicker you are, the more it costs), and medical sense; it is always better to prevent than cure.

Insurance companies are effectively saying that, when you are merely fat and don’t cost very much, they’re really not that interested. There must be hordes of claims processors, eagerly waiting to fund treatment and becoming bitterly disappointed at the lack of symptoms. “Just obese? No impaired glucose tolerance? Oh. No thanks then.”

Having puzzled over this situation, I’ve concluded that insurance companies in the UAE are suffering from a sort of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy; the need to attract medical attention by inflicting harm on others. All the signs point to it. In the light of this, I thought I’d close by sending out an appeal on their behalf: the next time you pass an insurance company, perhaps just pop into the claims department and voice your concern. If enough altruistic medical professionals do, perhaps we can restore some sense to proceedings, resulting in happy claims processors and healthier patients.

If only all medical dilemmas could be so simple.

Joanne Bladd, deputy editor (joanne.bladd@itp.com)||**||

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