Monday, January 08, 2007

Insurers Refuse Health Insurance To Workers In Certain Jobs

If you're an air traffic controller, a firefighter, or work in a stable, forget about getting health insurance, at least from some California companies. Many workers get insurance on their jobs, but an increasing number don't and are forced to purchase individual policies -- if they can.

The LA Times reports that:
Entire categories of workers — including roofers, pro athletes, dockworkers, migrant workers and firefighters — are turned down for insurance even if they are in good health and can afford coverage, according to the confidential underwriting guidelines of four health plans.

Although Blue Cross of California, the state's top seller of individual policies, does not exclude applicants based on occupation, three others do: Blue Shield of California, PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. and Health Net Inc. Actuarially speaking, they say, certain workers pose too big a risk.
Considering that injuries and illnesses acquired on the job are covered by Workers Compensation, it's not clear why these occupations are excluded.
Though many firefighters are covered through their jobs, thousands are volunteers and many work as ranchers, farmers and small-business operators. Some of them have had a hard time finding affordable coverage, said Richard Reed, who is on the board of the California State Firefighters' Assn.

Reed said he was surprised to learn that denying them coverage was a written policy.

Workers' compensation would cover firefighting-related injuries, such as a hernia from carrying someone out of a burning building, he said. Beyond that type of condition, he said, he couldn't understand how a firefighter posed a bigger risk than someone else.

"I'd really be curious to see what the grounds are, why they are denying them," Reed said. "What's the rationale that someone is doing a community service and gets nothing for doing it?"
And it's all perfectly legal iln California. Insureres claim it's the only way they can keep premiums down for everyone else.

Here are some occupations that could render workers ineligible for health insurance under the policies of some insurance companies.

• Air traffic control

• Building, moving

• Chemical/rubber manufacturing

• Circus or carnival work

• Concrete or asphalt work

• Crop dusting

• Firefighting

• Furniture and fixtures manufacturing

• Lumber work, including wood chopping, timber cutting and working in a sawmill

• Migrant labor

• Oil well or refinery work

• Police work

• Roofing

• Sandblasting

• Sports, semi-pro or professional

• Stockyard work, with or without butchering

• Stables, all employees

• Stunt work

• Telecom installation

• Transportation and aviation

• Tree climbing

• Tunnel work

• War reporting

• Window work at heights exceeding three stories