Weakening the Truth

When it comes to health care and health insurance and illness and sorrow and death–there are many sad and entirely true stories. It would appear, however, that the one which has been repeatedly told of the President’s mother is not included in that group:

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama often discussed his mother’s struggle with cancer. Ann Dunham spent the months before her death in 1995, Obama said, fighting with insurance companies that sought to deny her the coverage she needed to pay for treatment.

“I remember in the last month of her life, she wasn’t thinking about how to get well, she wasn’t thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality, she was thinking about whether or not insurance was going to cover the medical bills and whether our family would be bankrupt as a consequence,” Obama said in September 2007.

Unless Mr. Obama was still a member of her household–which one doubts extremely much–it is highly improbable that he would have felt the weight of her bankruptcy. Of course, if he had agreed with the hospital to pay her bills, then things are a bit different. Let’s move on:

But Scott, who had access to Dunham’s correspondence from the time, reveals that Dunham unquestionably had health coverage. “Ann’s compensation for her job in Jakarta had included health insurance, which covered most of the costs of her medical treatment,” Scott writes. “Once she was back in Hawaii, the hospital billed her insurance company directly, leaving Ann to pay only the deductible and any uncovered expenses, which, she said, came to several hundred dollars a month.”

Scott writes that Dunham, who wanted to be compensated for those costs as well as for her living expenses, “filed a separate claim under her employer’s disability insurance policy.” It was that claim, with the insurance company CIGNA, that was denied in August 1995 because, CIGNA investigators said, Dunham’s condition was known before she was covered by the policy.

I see. Her health insurance covered her treatment and hospitalization, less the deductible and what amounted to “several hundred dollars a month.” This does not sound nearly so dire as what the President has told us, does it? The insurance claim that was denied was for disability–and it would appear that the insurance company had good grounds (contractual basis) for this denial.

Though she threatened a lawsuit, with her son as the lawyer,  Ms. Dunham did not prevail.  However, this is not the story we have been told to date by the President.

Remember the Naomi Canfield story? It would seem that things were not nearly so dire in that case either. Then there was the story of Otto Raddatz–which also turned out to be incorrect. And, let’s not forget Robin Lynn Beaton. There may well be others.

Is he just being sloppy, or does not care about getting the facts right–because someone out there (even if not the person whose name he gives us) has had a similar experience with insurance company?

I’m sorry, but we are all aware of “fake but accurate” information and how accurate it really is. The biggest problem with promulgating such information is not that the data is wrong–but that with every tearjerking health care insurance story he relates which turns out to factually unsubstantiated, we have greater reason to disbelieve the President when he tells us anything about our current health care system. Or about anything else.

That is downright sad.