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Dear Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: This is Incredibly Bad PR

February 9, 2008

Via Junkfood Science, I learned that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, in response to a lawsuit from parents over the insurer’s refusal to cover their children’s anorexia or bulimia, is demanding access to the children’s emails and MySpace and Facebook accounts. According to this news item:

Horizon claims that the children’s online writings, as well as journal and diary entries, could shed light on the causes of the disorders, which determines the insurer’s responsibility for payment. New Jersey law requires coverage of mental illness only if it is biologically based.


Horizon claims the eating problems are not biologically based and that the writings could point to emotional causes. It contends that access to the writings is especially important because the court has barred taking the minors’ depositions.

Essentially, the insurer is claiming that the eating disorders are simply an emotional problem, and want to root around in children’s communications to try to demonstrate that nothing is physically wrong – it’s all in their heads. And mental health concerns never have a biological basis, right? That must be why psychiatrists never prescribe drugs to help with mental health. Or not.

I wonder how BCBS plans to separate normal teenage angst from writings demonstrating a direct cause of their eating disorders? Somehow I doubt that’s even possible, because, let’s be frank – if someone dug up all of your teenage missives, would it seem like you were a mature, mentally stable person? Probably not. Also, teens never exaggerate their mental suffering, right? Way to try to humiliate them in the process of trying to get their serious (sometimes fatal) disorders covered so they can have access to treatment. Ugh.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Sandy permalink
    February 9, 2008 1:40 pm

    Wonderful and perceptive analysis!

  2. February 9, 2008 2:14 pm

    Thank you, Sandy.

  3. February 9, 2008 2:57 pm

    This “big brother” stuff really creeps me out. I agree with you… at what point will the government decide that all teens be screened for “emotional imbalance” and take action that might actually push more kids into serious issues?

    thanks for the post. Very thought provoking.

    (by the way, I’m a new reader. My husband is a librarian at Norwich U. in VT. We were both plunged into issues surrounding women’s health when I got pregnant the first time in 2006. Truly enjoying your blog.)

  4. February 10, 2008 12:47 am

    Geez, who thought teenage angst could make mental illness a preexisting condition? Only an industry that profits off of denying care could make that connection.

  5. February 10, 2008 11:09 am

    Leila, thanks for commenting! Always glad to have more librarian-adjacent readers. 🙂
    Hilary, no kidding.

  6. April 11, 2008 4:46 pm

    Blue Cross can’t seem to understand the customer, us. If you are looking, there are alternatives to the Blue that will honor their contract with you.

  7. Regarding Insurance permalink
    January 15, 2009 12:48 pm

    This should come as no surprise to subscribers of Horizon. They’ll look for any excuse not to pay claims. My daughter, who is away at college, suffered, just once, from excruciating head pains. She went to the emergency room. They treated her and sent her for an MRI and a few other diagnostic procedures. When the claims came in, Horizon said it was a pre-existing condition. Now there is a clause in their contract regarding this. But as I was getting bill after bill from various health providers, Horizon did nothing but deny them until I called. Then they said to get a note from my primary care physician attesting to the fact this was not a pre-existing condition. Then they said that was no good, that they’d send a questionnaire to each provider. They did but there was little response. I asked what am I supposed to do with these bills. Then they finally told me to get a certificate of coverage from my former health insurance company and that should negate the pre-existing condition clause and everything will be hunky dory. I told them that in all the time I had health coverage, I never had to do any leg work like this. I never had to raise a stink or my voice. It seems that you have to yell loud enough with Horizon to get anything done. I’m now researching other companies so I can get rid of Horizon.

  8. Anna permalink
    March 17, 2010 4:09 pm

    It looks like Horizon BC/BS of NJ has already stopped paying for certain CPT codes. I get back shots due to bulging discs and degenerative discs and they denied my treatment three times now. So I guess they expect me to become a drug addict and lose my job and draw disability.


  1. Anorexic teens ordered to turn Myspace writings over to the court « Dilettantish
  2. Interprete » Google it
  3. Anorexic teens ordered to turn Myspace writings over to the court | Elizabeth Nolan Brown

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