The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Bad Laws Yield Bad Results

Posted by brightcoast on September 20, 2008

Anyone who knows anything about ERISA knows that it is a terrible law when it comes to people being denied coverage and subsequently having to sue. The problem with it is that none of the typical private causes of action are available in the event that the insured is wrongfully denied coverage. As my Insurance Law professor Adam Scales put so eloquently, after you are denied treatment for your leg, you will get a check for the amount the treatment would have cost, and “you can take the check and put it next to your [now] stump, ’cause that’s all you’re gonna get.” (Or something along those lines).

I’ve been thinking about this law in particular because, as any law student attempting to secure employment in this economy knows, it’s not always possible or practicable to get a job that you agree with completely on some metaphysical or philosophical level. However, what I came to realize is that what we as attorneys are called to do is attempt to enforce the laws as written, albeit to your client’s benefit. Thus, in order to change the results, we must strive to change the underlying law itself as written. And we can certainly start with ERISA.

Relatedly, and perhaps obviously, I am not generally thrilled with the overall situation of healthcare coverage, or lack thereof in the U.S. I looked over McCain’s proposed solution, which offers to give individuals a $2500 voucher, or $5000 for families to choose the private coverage that best suits their needs. (I’ll post later about Obama’s proposal). What’s ironic about that, is that I’ve heard from legitimate sources in the past, see above, that the average cost of insurance for a family is somewhere in the area of $12,000. So, we can have $5000 to cover less than half of the family. It reminds me of the allegory in Sicko where the man has to choose which finger he wants to save, ultimately going with the ring finger for romantic reasons. Just sayin’


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