Joanne Fitzgerald was getting divorced and was stressed out. When stomach pain kicked in, she saw a doctor to have it checked out.
That was her mistake.
The doctor diagnosed a mild form of gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining, and recommended some over-the-counter medicine. But when the divorce became final, in 2008, she lost health coverage from her husband’s employer, and insurer after insurer refused to cover her because of the condition. She was finally offered a policy that excluded coverage for anything related to her gastrointestinal tract.
“I thought I was being smart in going to the doctor and getting checked out,” Ms. Fitzgerald, 55, who currently lives in Washington, D.C.,...