The parents of a two-year-old girl in Colorado are unable to obtain health insurance for their daughter because the insurer, United Healthcare Golden Rule, claims she is too small. In a letter sent to the family of the child, Aislin Bates, United Healthcare Golden Rule writes, "we are unable to provide coverage for Aislin because her height and weight do not meet our company standards." According to a Colorado news station, Aislin weighed six pounds, six ounces at birth, and now weighs 22 pounds.
When Robert Bates, the girl's father, left his former job to start his own business, he was forced to seek out his own health insurance, and enrolled his family in an insurance plan with United Healthcare Golden Rule. "It took me by surprise," Bates told ABC 7 in Denver. "I didn't think that her size was that abnormal and that it was something that you'd consider to be unhealthy." As ABC 7 reports:
A spokeswoman for United Healthcare Golden Rule said 89 percent of the people who apply for insurance get it. Ellen Laden, the company's public relations director, told the station that most insurers have their own propriety height and weight guidelines.
"Ours are based on several medical sources, including the Centers for Disease Control, and are well within industry standards," she said.
Laden said she couldn't talk about specific cases like the Bates'.
Robert Bates, however, isn't satisfied. "What we want to see is that insurance companies have legitimate reasons for denying coverage," he said.
Recently, another child in Colorado, Alex Lange, was also denied coverage, but for "preexisting obesity" instead of being underweight. In that instance, the insurer, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, reversed their policy after the parents of the 17-pound infant gained media exposure. After the reversal, Rocky Mountain Health Plans attributed the boy's rejection for health coverage to a "flaw in our underwriting system."
The Bates family is hoping for a similar change in policy. In the meantime, Aislin Bates remains uninsured.