Congratulations to Ann Althouse

Bloggers really can wind up developing long term relationships with commenters. Ann Althouse began exchanging email with a commenter. This exchange went on for over four years. The two finally met in person in January and are now engaged. Best of luck to both of them.

Hardly News: Presidential Candidate Not Backing Their Running Mate

The news media is making a big deal out of John McCain’s unwillingness to commit to supporting Sarah Palin for president in 2012. This is hardly surprising. Even beyond the special circumstances this year in which the vice presidential candidate turned out to be unfit for national office, it is common for presidential candidates to chose candidates they would not support for president. Often that is a consequence of balancing a ticket with someone who appeals to a different segment of the electorate. This was also clearly the case with McCain’s choice of Palin.

We really can’t bash McCain over this. After all, both Al Gore and John Kerry chose running mates who were significantly different from them and wound up endorsing other candidates when Joe Lieberman and John Edwards ran for the nomination in 2004 and 2008.

Cheney Acted To Undermine Mideast Peace and Obama

Few in high political offices have done as much to betray the interests of their country as Dick Cheney has. Cheney’s betrayal even extended to his final days in office as he sought to undermine both the Mideast peace process and then President-Elect Obama. Seymour Hersh reports:

The Obama transition team also helped persuade Israel to end the bombing of Gaza and to withdraw its ground troops before the Inauguration. According to the former senior intelligence official, who has access to sensitive information, “Cheney began getting messages from the Israelis about pressure from Obama” when he was President-elect. Cheney, who worked closely with the Israeli leadership in the lead-up to the Gaza war, portrayed Obama to the Israelis as a “pro-Palestinian,” who would not support their efforts (and, in private, disparaged Obama, referring to him at one point as someone who would “never make it in the major leagues”).

Insurance Companies Avoid People With Medical Problems

The Miami Herald shows one of the problems with our health insurance system, especially for those trying to purchase individual coverage who have any medical problems:

Trying to buy health insurance on your own and have gallstones? You’ll automatically be denied coverage. Rheumatoid arthritis? Automatic denial. Severe acne? Probably denied. Do you take metformin, a popular drug for diabetes? Denied. Use the anti-clotting drug Plavix or Seroquel, prescribed for anti-psychotic or sleep problems? Forget about it.

This confidential information on some insurers’ practices is available on the Web — if you know where to look.

What’s more, you can discover that if you lie to an insurer about your medical history and drug use, you will be rejected because data-mining companies sell information to insurers about your health, including detailed usage of prescription drugs.

These issues are moving to the forefront as the Obama administration and Congress gear up for discussions about how to reform the healthcare system so that Americans won’t be rejected for insurance.

It’s especially timely because growing numbers are looking for individual health insurance after losing their jobs. On top of that, small businesses, which make up the bulk of South Florida’s economy, are frequently finding health policies too expensive and are dropping coverage, sending even more people shopping for insurance.

The problem is, material available on the Web shows that people who have specific illnesses or use certain drugs can’t buy coverage.

”This is absolutely the standard way of doing business,” said Santiago Leon, a health insurance broker in Miami. Being denied for preexisting conditions is well known, but when a person sees the usually confidential list of automatic denials for himself, “that’s a eureka moment. That shows you how harsh the system is.”

Different insurance companies will vary in their policies, and many states do have an insurance of last resort who will insure those with medical problems–often for an outrageous cost. One example of an insurance company’s underwriting policies can be found here. There is information on finding out what the data-mining companies have on you here.

These policies make it difficult for many people over 40 who are not covered by an employer’s plan to obtain individual coverage. What often happens is that such people’s chronic problems receive insufficient treatment, increasing the costs when they qualify for Medicare at age 65.

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