Insurance companies betrayed the community on pill testing | News from the region

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The biggest mistake we could make about the appalling decision by insurance companies to withdraw support for life-saving pill testing services at music festivals is to think it’s an isolated issue. The reality is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Since our organization made public the inexplicable decision by insurance companies to declare a health service that reduces the risk for young people attending music festivals as an uninsurable risk at an event, we have been inundated with similar stories in the fields of drugs, health, wellness and even the entertainment industry. The stories all have a common theme. The excessive power of insurance companies to interfere in what a service, company or event can do. This intrusion occurs without reference to the evidence, protocols, or experience of those involved in providing this service. It also involves a decision-making process that is hidden and cannot be scrutinized or challenged. When you’re about to receive an insurance company’s decision on whether you can go ahead with your plans, it escalates into a farce summed up by the comedy sketch of Little Britain – “sorry, the computer says no.. .”. Your recourse? Nothing. In our case, the festival-based pill testing service we provide has received support from the ACT government, including the health, police and events departments, festival promoters, patrons and the community. at large. They understood that our presence and interactions with customers about to use drugs at the festival offered a real opportunity to reduce the risk of drug-related harm. This view is not based on intuition but on review of our previous work and careful research by coroners and special commissions here in Australia. People will rightly say, well, go to another insurer who understands what you are doing and all the measures you have in place to ensure you can provide safe service. Great in theory, but the reality is that you quickly find out that insurance companies all come to the same monolithic decision one way or another. A setback for one quickly becomes a setback for all. This belies the situation that in order to legally operate a service or business, you need to have the necessary public liability and, in some cases like ours, professional indemnity insurance in place. This can only be obtained from private market insurance companies. The equation is simple: no insurance, no service. LEARN MORE: This raises the bigger question of who then really decides what services, businesses and events can operate in the community? Naively, we all think that it is the community and the governments that represent us. In reality, it is anonymous insurance actuaries in remote parts of the world who decide what services and businesses we can have in our community. The only good to come from our nightmare is the exposure of insurance companies taking control of the final decision on authorized services and companies. Today, unfortunately for us and the people who use our service, this means that we are not authorized to provide this important (and potentially life-saving) public health service for young people. Our pill screening service clearly reduces the risk of harm at festivals and our exclusion now reinforces the fear many families have while waiting and hoping not to get the call from the hospital at 3am. It’s a hard truth, but insurance companies have turned their backs on the community they serve and the many medical professionals and volunteers who try to make the community we live in a safer and more human for all. We don’t know how to limit this power of insurance companies, but we are sure that if something is not done now, their unchecked power threatens to dominate our lives in ways we have no control over or no options.



Kristan F. Talley