Sunday, March 4, 2012


Oh. Oh my. Oh man.
There are ways to make me angry-- and then there are ways to make me disgusted-- but this? I does both.
My friend Jenny led me to this link: When Getting Beaten By Your Husband is a Pre-Existing Condition. When I saw the title, I thought "well, obviously, it can't be serious, domestic abuse wouldn't count as a pre-existing condition, it's not a disease and its the result of someone else's actions.

But then I read the HuffPo article. And it is exactly what it sounds like. Not every insurance policy has being a victim of domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition-- but at least seven of them allow it. That is, if you are a woman (or a man) who has been abused by a man (or a woman) and you stay in a relationship with that person, it is allowed for you to be charged a higher rate as a result. The HuffPo article points out the obvious logic to it-- women with abusive partners are more likely to be abused again, and thus, need medical treatment; since they statistically cost more, charge them more. But... this is not as easy a situation as this would make it out to be.

Yes, being a victim of abuse is like having an illness-- you don't want it, and you can't escape it, even though you may try to treat it through medicines or self help. But it's also different. This is something the system could fix if we gave more resources to women (and men! but for ease, I'll stick with saying women) who are abused. This is a time when our tax dollars could go to a good cause-- helping women escape their situation, have a shelter until they find work, and have therapy so they don't go back.

This is affecting me especially strongly because it hits close to home. One of my close college friends has dealt with domestic abuse, and is currently in the process of leaving her abuser and forging out on her own-- and there is not a great wealth of social services available to help her with this; she's had to move back with her parents to make this possible, and she has a job that makes some money, which helps. But for many abused women, there are no parents willing to help, and there is no job to help support them-- and even if there had been, there is likely no savings they can access. Men who are physically violent are often controlling in other ways, which often includes control of finances-- either not letting a woman work at all, or having her paycheck direct-deposited into an account he controls.

Also, getting a woman who has been abused to admit to that abuse is hard-- so if its on the record, making that record hurt her is the last thing we need, if we want to help people-- and I know insurance companies are corporations, not charities, but I believe that even corporations should have some ethical guidelines.

I guess what I'm basically saying is-- abuse should not be treated as a pre-existing condition. Women who deal with abuse have to deal with mistreatment from their partner and the legal system. And now I find out the insurance system would like to make it even harder for these women to tell their stories-- which ultimately makes it harder to leave. Because that's the other shitty part of domestic abuse-- psychologically, most of these women can't leave their abuser, at least not on the first-- what, ten or more?-- tries. You may not understand it, but there is some serious mental stuff that goes on-- more than i can get into here-- and the system itself is failing women whenever it refuses to acknowledge that.

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