Well, it looks like the broken, collapsed and shameful American "healthcare" system has even crawled up the ass of elite Olympic athletes.
Highmark is a proud official Olympic supplier. Highmark even produced Olympic athlete testimonial videos which you can watch here. But like just like so much in our country, what you quite literally see, is not exactly what you get.
I tried to find out how much Highmark pays the USOC for the right to be called a "supplier", if any great sleuths can find that information, please let us know.
Given out-of-control healthcare costs in the U.S. healthcare system, when you begin to see Highmark advertising during the Olympics, keep in mind, this is money being taken from health insurance premiums to market their odious and defective product.
This information about elite U.S. athletes and the gauntlet they run in attempting to obtain health insurance, is quite shocking to read, coming on the heels of the London 2012 opening ceremony celebration of Britain's revered NHS.
Thanks to Kaiser Health News, we have a little peek into this seedy side of life American Olympic athletes face in obtaining health insurance, and the quality of the insurance they receive.
The Kaiser article makes clear, that no one who knows anything (Highmark and the United States Olympic Committee) wants to talk about this under-reported American reality. What exactly are the benefits these athletes are paying for? As Americans who battle these insurance companies every day over denied care, and delayed claims payment, we know the athletes are paying a lot for very little. There is no doubt, they are being gouged, just like the rest of us.
Of course, if the United States had universal healthcare, as the rest of the industrialized world has, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
"It's a similar plan with similar benefits to those people might have through an employer," said Steven Nelson, a senior vice president with Highmark. PPO Blue is also available on the individual market.
Nelson would not provide specific details about the USOC health plan, which offers preventive services and other benefits, both in the U.S. and overseas. Nelson did say that the committee can tailor its plan to the demands of athletes, such as physical therapy benefits. The USOC also did not provide comment on plan specifics.
Got that? USOC news blackout on "plan specifics". But Kaiser does report that the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, has a EAHI plan with a $25,000 deductible for sports injuries.
Highmark proudly self identifies as an official Olympic supplier, because it is the provider of a very defective high deductible junk insurance product for a few Olympic athletes who pass muster and qualify for their largesse.
Highmark provides something calledELITE ATHLETE HEALTH INSURANCE (EAHI), each team gets a certain number of slots. What happens if the team has utilized all its slots and an athlete requires coverage--I don't have a clue.
As stated, on sports related injuries the plan has a $25,000 deductible. Access is denied to the Snowboard Association link which evidently refers to the $25,000 deductible. If anyone can get that page, please let us know, and email it to Christian Torres CTorres@kff.org, the Kaiser reporter.
EAHI also has a $25,000 deductible for sports injuries, according to recent plan information from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. The large deductible and athletes’ high risk of injury may drive them toward other insurance options.
The 2012 Badminton Team was given Five (5) slots.
2012 ELITE ATHLETE HEALTH INSURANCE (EAHI)
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Elite Athlete Health Insurance Program (EAHI) provides a level of base support by offering a program of health and major medical insurance for designated Elite Athletes in order to minimize the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by insured athletes for costs of medical care.
USA Badminton receives from the USOC a guaranteed number of EAHI slots to distribute to its Elite Athletes. Distribution of these EAHI slots is based on the following criteria (see below) approved by the USOC.
A. Number of EAHI slots allocated: 5
B. Eligibility and Criteria Approved for EAHI:
Only U.S. Citizens are eligible for EAHI.
Up to 5 athletes will be offered EAHI based on the following prioritized order below. In order to be eligible athletes must be currently training and competing in international competitions and have a current Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Ranking for the United States.
The following prioritized order will be applied May 3rd, 2012 allowing athletes to be offered and enrolled in EAHI on June 1st, 2012. Enrollment is dependent on the timely submission of necessary paperwork:
1. Priority will be given to all 2012 Olympic Team Members (OTM). If more athletes qualify for the OTM than EAHI slots available, the EAHI slots will be offered to the OTM with the highest BWF World-Ranking as of May 3, 2012.
2. If EAHI slots are still available, the second priority will be given to athletes according to the highest BWF World-Ranking as of May 3, 2012. Athletes must have a ranking of 125 or better to be eligible.
3. If an EAHI slot is offered to a doubles team and one of the team members declines or already has been offered an EAHI slot, his/her partner will still be offered an EAHI slot.
4. If only one slot is available at any time during the process then the next highest BWF ranked Men’s or Women’s singles player based on the BWF World Ranking on May 3rd 2012 will be offered the slot. Athletes must have a ranking of 125 or better to be eligible.
Take a look at the lengthy eligibility requirements posted by the Canoe and Kayak Team for the EAHI insurance.
It looks like it more difficult to get insurance than to make the team!
So as you’re watching the best athletes from the United States and the rest of the world, keep in mind that while they may be capable of superhuman feats, American athletes, unlike most of their counterparts, struggle to find affordable health insurance and health care, just like the rest of us.