I read this article today about heroin addicts who want help often coming up against denials from health insurance companies. In one given example, a man addicted to heroin genuinely wanted to stop and his doctor recommended an in-patient 10 day treatment program with medications, therapies and learning social skills to stay clean upon getting out.

Then he submitted it to an insurance company for approval. As is often the case, it was denied, with the insurance company saying they would only pay for such a thing after many months of trying often less effective alternatives, out-patient therapies, etc.. The problem is sometimes heroin addicts will be dead in those months. So who's problem is it? On one hand, the medical industry as a whole is largely responsible for the explosion of heroin use having over-prescribed things like Oxycontin leading to opiate based addictions.

Heroin being the far cheaper street alternative many have fallen prey to heroin this way. Heroin fast becomes a medical problem no matter how it started. On the other hand, there's not a person alive who doesn't know heroin is dangerous and highly addictive, so should an insurance company pay at all to help someone who did this to themselves? Who willfully started out on a doomed path by making a such terrible choice?

Then again couldn't we argue the same with many other things? We've known cigarette smoking is harmful for many decades yet insurance pays for cancer treatments when that started with a terrible choice. Or to compare it to illegal behavior, we know driving a car at 110 mph is a terrible, dangerous choice but insurance companies will pay for treatment in an intensive care unit after a crash.

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