The Under-Insured: 'Health-Care Crisis Hits Home'

When Karen Tumulty's brother Patrick was diagnosed with kidney disease, the Time magazine correspondent thought her 15 years of experience covering health policy would enable her to solve his insurance problems. But Tumulty soon realized that the health care crisis is more complicated — and severe — than she thought.

As Tumulty notes in her Mar. 5, 2009 Time article, "The Health-Care Crisis Hits Home," her brother had subscribed for six years to a short-term health insurance policy, which he renewed every six months. But, she writes, the short-term policy meant that "each successive policy treated him as a brand-new customer." When he was diagnosed with kidney disease, the insurance company labeled his illness a "preexisting condition" and refused to pay for the costly diagnosis and treatment.

Tumulty explains that many Americans are under-insured, and they may not even know it: Health policies that seem generous for healthy people may actually be unable to cover costs if a serious illness arises. She writes that "just about anyone could be one bad diagnosis away from financial ruin."

Tumulty is a national correspondent for Time magazine. She previously wrote for the Los Angeles Times. She was awarded the Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business and financial journalism in 1982 and the National Press Foundation Edwin Hood Award for diplomatic correspondence in 1993.

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