Updated – Thursday, October 22

Hours after Aislin appeared on TODAY Wednesday along with her parents, their proposed insurer, United HealthCare, issued a statement saying, “As part of our standard appeals process, we undertook additional review of Aislin Bates’ medical records and determined, in fact, we can offer her health insurance coverage.”

huh, interesting considering during the initial appeal the family sent to united healthcare, aislin was denied.  I am thrilled that this little girl will now be covered, however, this points out a very disturbing trend in the healthcare industry.  i mentioned it yesterday but i think it warrants being brought up again…while i am not in agreeance of many of the issues being discussed as part of the current healthcare reform, i am a huge advocate of getting the "pre-existing condition" clause changed as quickly as possible.  it is unfathomable to me that insurance companies can continue to bring in record profits all the while denying children like aislin, or women who have had prior c-sections or men who have had to fight for their lives to beat cancer only to find themselves without coverage.  

if you need another face to put with this very issue you can visit heather's blog.  some of you may recognize heather's blog as i have mentioned her before.  her daughter passed away suddenly in april and i vowed to not only walk for adali in the march for babies but to walk for little maddie as well.  heather has had to deal with the ultimate loss in the death her child due to prematurity and she should not have to worry about being left without insurance coverage on top of everything else she has had to go through.  (thanks traci for commenting about heather). 

wednesday, october 21

on the TODAY show this morning the bates family discussed the fact that their daughter was denied healthcare coverage by united healthcare because she did not meet their height and weight standards.  she is 2 years old and weighs approximately 22 pounds.  adali being nearly 18.5 pounds at almost 20 months will fall well short of 22 pounds by her 2nd birthday but is deemed healthy by everyone that has seen her.  if, when jastin changes jobs, an insurance company dares to deny her coverage…they better hope i'm no where near their office when i find out. 

i have embedded the video from the show as well as the article from the TODAY show website.  I encourage you to review one of them as this is one example of what should absolutely, unequivocally be addressed in the healthcare reform.      

First, a Colorado baby was turned down for health insurance for being too big. Now, another Colorado child has been turned down for health insurance for being too small. 

Just a week after TODAY highlighted the story of 4-month-old Alex Lange, who at 17 pounds was considered obese, the show presented Wednesday the equally curious case of 2-year-old Aislin Bates, who at 22 pounds was turned down for health insurance for not meeting a proposed insurer’s height and weight standards. 

Aislin’s dad, Robert Bates, told TODAY’s Erin Burnett he was shocked that United HealthCare turned down their request for coverage when their daughter is basically a picture of health, having suffered nothing more than a common cold in her life. Doctors have told Robert and his wife, Rachel, that Aislin’s small size is purely a matter of genes, not ill health.  “It seems as if they’re discriminating about the fact that she’s smaller, that her size is an issue,” Robert Bates said. “I don’t see why that would be a factor in whether or not a child is healthy.” 

Bates told TODAY that he and his family were previously insured by United HealthCare. Two months after Aislin was born, his employer switched plans to Guardian Health Insurance. In August, Bates left his job to become self-employed, and he went back to United HealthCare requesting coverage. The insurer turned down coverage for Aislin — even though it had already insured Aislin as an infant — stating she did not meet height and weight standards and also noting the Bateses had sought treatment for Aislin’s finicky eating habits. TODAY Aislin, whose nickname is 'Pixie,' has been attending food therapy for her picky eating. 

As the Bateses appealed the decision, their own family doctor went to bat for them, writing to the insurer and stating Aislin’s small size was genetic, that she was developing normally and there was no reason to deny coverage. But Robert Bates said the company rejected the appeal, simply reiterating that Aislin didn’t meet underwriting standards. 

Rachel Bates told Burnett their daughter “is not sick at all; she’s just petite, and that’s the issue.” She said little Aislin has been graded in the 3rd percentile for child height and weight, but has been progressing normally in her own range. 

Robert and Rachel realized Aislin was a picky eater early on, and went the extra mile to enroll her in food therapy. But instead of earning brownie points with the insurer, the family believes having their daughter in treatment is actually being held against them.

“We wanted to fix her picky eating, because we want her to be able to eat a wide variety of foods, and not just things she wants to eat, like chocolate,” Rachel Bates told TODAY. 

“We personally sought out therapy; it was not prescribed by a doctor. In the process, it was found that [Aislin] has just a minor, minor gag reflex, causing her to not like certain foods. But the therapist says she’s thriving and fine, and she’s developing normally and in fact, possibly advanced.” 

Appearing on TODAY with the Bates family, which also includes 3-month-old boy Elliott, Dr. Nancy Snyderman quickly broke in when Burnett professed she didn’t understand what the problem is with insuring Aislin. 

“You don’t understand? Because there’s nothing here to understand,” Snyderman said. “This is just so bogus. A pre-existing condition for a child this age is birth, let’s be real!” A Colorado couple was initially denied health insurance for their 4-month-old son because he was overweight. NBC’s Michael Okwu reports and NBC’s chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, weighs in.

The case of Alex Lange had a happy ending. After the family appeared on TODAY, Rocky Mountain Health Plansreversed its decision and agreed to insure the child, and admitted there was a flaw in its underwriting system.

Robert Bates, to date, has had no such luck. While he continues to lobby United HealthCare to cover Aislin, the family has been forced to look at other options. Aislin is currently insured under a COBRA plan from Bates’ previous job, but it expires in 18 months. 

Snyderman was clearly agitated that the Bates family has to go through worry and uncertainty over insuring Aislin, and said her prognosticating skills have unfortunately been proven accurate. 

“Last week we talked about how crazy it was that there was a chubby baby being denied, and I said next thing you know, we’ll hear about the skinny kid. So here’s the skinny kid,” she said, pointing to Aislin. 

“I think what we’re really seeing is the cherry-picking of health care plans across the country,” Snyderman said, adding, “If anyone doubted the significance of health care reform in this country, this is why things have to change. 

“This is egregious.”

let me know…what are your thoughts on this issue and insurance companies in general?  what would you like to see included and or excluded from healthcare reform. 

 Jeans collage

on a side note, doesn't she look so grown up in jeans?  and look at that little rooster curl on the back of her head…love!

much love,

mama a  

2 Comments ( Reply )

  1. Janet says:

    I think denial of coverage to toddlers is absurd, especially for their weight as a reason! I have witnessed denial of coverage to adults for trivial reasons but, while unfortunate to their families, I am glad these cases are making the news at such a pivotal time when the public and government are giving attention to healtcare policy and reform and decisions to be made regarding it. Apologies for the run-on ;)

    You have a beautiful child.

  2. Traci says:

    link to thespohrsaremultiplying.com

    When reading your blog today. I thought you would enjoy this blog. they have just been to Washington over the same issues.

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