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Family: $2-million of insurance not enough

A Washington couple testified Tuesday that health care costs so much in the United States that $2-million in medical insurance was not enough to cover their child's expenses. The testimony by Gregory Hauptman, a lawyer, and Dr. Joan Conry, a pediatric neurologist, showed that even well-off families can run short of money when hit with serious illness.

They were one of several families testifying before the Senate Labor Committee about the limits of medical insurance in the United States.

Hauptman and Conry testified that Leann, the youngest of their three children, was born nearly three years ago with the rare disease osteopetrosis, which affects bone formation.

"We had excellent coverage for the family through my law firm, with a lifetime cap per insured individual of $1-million," Hauptman said.

Being cautious, they decided to get an additional $1-million of insurance.

But since then their daughter has had numerous complex operations and was hospitalized in intensive care from January 1989 to March 1990.

"Even $2-million in commercial insurance benefits has proven to be insufficient," Hauptman said. They have hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid medical bills.

Congress is seeking a way to deal with such shortfalls in the system. A plan presented by Senate Democrats would set up a program to insure the poor, but House Democrats are seeking a way to insure all Americans.