Autism Insurance Discrimination
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My application triggered a knee-jerk reaction by the company. While they approved my mother's insurance application of the same policy within a week, they spent 3 weeks to send their rejection letter to me.
I immediately wrote back to them by email requesting for an explanation. As this was just before Christmas 2009, they promised to take a look after the holidays. After waiting for another two weeks, I wrote another email to them telling them about my special situation and asking for a reason why they rejected me. When their representative called the next day, she requested that vaguely for a doctor's letter. She did not elaborate on what the letter should contain.
As my mother was very eager for me to get insurance and getting impatience with my progress, she took matters into her own hands. She called another insurance contact she knew, and somehow they managed to work the matter out. The document the company requested is a letter certifying that I do not have self-injurious behavior.
Unfortunately, the representative informed my mother that the company has already closed my policy application, since I have not appealed within 1 month by snail mail. They then took 2 weeks to send me the advance payment I made for the first year's premium. This sounds like they are sending a message that I am not welcome as their client.
My belief is that the insurance companies do not owe us a living and are free to pick and choose their clients. I am also free to decide to save the insurance premium instead of paying it to a reluctant insurance company. However, my mother has decided that it is essential that I get insurance cover. My sister has persuaded me that I should make some effort to fight for this case, since it affects not only me, but the autism community in Singapore.
This is when I found that another insurance company has rejected an annuity application for a teenage Singaporean friend of mine last year, who comes from a well-off family, also because of the "A-word". In addition, a week after I wrote this article, a Singaporean parent also contacted me with a similar situation. I realized that I am not a "test case" or "guinea pig" but one out of the (possibly) tens of thousands of people who face the same treatment around the world.
A few weeks later, the Autism Resource Center wrote a short letter to the company explaining my case, which I attached to my policy application. This time, the insurance company accepted me as their client without any reservations. I am grateful for ARC's help. I hope that with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in the USA, insurance companies will take a more enlightened view in the future. [Update: Starting from August 2013, NTUC Income is offering insurance for people with autism in Singapore.]
Tips to avoid being blacklisted
If the insurance company does not want you as a client, there are still many things you can do for yourself to protect yourself from problems. Living a sane, safe and healthy lifestyle is actually be better than having a ton of insurance. Examples include:
Remember that an ounce of prevention is better than a ton of cure. An insurance policy is merely one of the ways you can protect yourself from disasters after they happens. You can still do whatever is in your power to prevent disasters from happening in the first place.
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