Insurance provider shouldn’t jeopardize health

Although my wife and I moved from Altoona to Virginia several years ago, we both still have our Altoona-area cellphone numbers.

Because of this, this past weekend I was called by a pollster seeking opinions on the UPMC Health System.

The gist of the poll was: If I could only go to a UPMC hospital by having UPMC insurance, would I change my insurance plan?

Although (thankfully) this no longer affects us personally, I know that it is an issue that could affect many of our friends and acquaintances in Altoona, and the idea that any of their lives may be jeopardized by such an action angers me.

And so I would like to share an idea with your readers of how they might combat UPMC if they actually try to limit their patients to only those having UPMC’s insurance plan.

Hospitals in Pennsylvania have to pass a 5-point test, known as the HUP test, to qualify as a charity. The third point of the HUP test says that they have to benefit “a substantial and indefinite class of persons who are legitimate subjects of charity.”

If a hospital will only provide services to its own insurance holders, then it is providing services only to a very definite class of people, and I don’t think that it meets this criteria for charitable and tax-exempt status.

And so if any of you are ever denied service by UPMC because the name on your insurance card isn’t UPMC, sue them to have their tax-exempt status removed.

In the best of possible situations, someone at UPMC is reading this and bells and whistles are starting to go off, and the health system will give up all plans to ever turn away those who aren’t their own insurance customers.

But if they don’t, I think that the only way to fight them is to hit their wallet, and getting their tax-exempt status removed would certainly do that.

Steve Suter

Keezletown, VA