Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's so great about private health insurance?

Normally I don't like to discuss politics or religion here, but there was some discussion the other day about US health care reform, on a blog that's settings won't allow me to post a reply. Since affordable, comprehensive, quality health care is important to everyone, and especially to people going through transition, I thought it might be appropriate to post a link to an article that explodes some of the popular myths about the greatness of American private health insurance. I know this won't change the minds of those who are firmly wedded to the notion, that being an American means an undying devotion to capitalism in all endeavors, and an utter abhorrence of any government social programs at all, but for those whose minds are still open, you might find this article interesting. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik3-2009aug03,0,6650122.column


Melissa said...

Sorry, I must have screwed up the address when inserting the link, but if you copy and paste the accompanying web address into you browser's address bar,it will take you to the article.


Anonymous said...

Well, I haven't beat my head on a brick wall in a couple of weeks so I'll get the wrecking ball swinging...lol.

This is an emotional issue...and that's part of the problem. We see injustice, problems, inefficiencies, etc, in today's American health care. There is just no way the two divergent sides of the argument will ever agree.

Here is why I don't want government controlled health care: If you don't like how high your electric bill is, all you have to do to lower costs is stop paying it. But...what happens if you do? Eventually, you will lose the service you refused to pay for. You will either pay the bill or you will get no service. This is exactly what we are talking about doing with government run health care. Doctors already are refusing Medicare/Medicaid patients because the government refuses to pay what the care was worth. It's a problem NOW...with government run care it will snowball until we reach the point that rationing will begin to take place.

The vast majority of health care is spent on people later in life. They age and the problems naturally begin to multiply. Of course other age groups get sick too, but the vast majority of costs are spent on older patients. The present administration has quadrupled the debt in only 6 months. That will multiply many fold when "Cap and Tax" becomes law. If the government takes on health care too, it will multiply again. We won't have money to cover the costs. So, the government will just say, OK, you get this much for a heart transplant...take it or leave it. Of course, the patient that needs that heart will have to be young enough to have a future life of however many years the government decides is worth the money. The old guy will just have to wait...and wait...and die. If you don't believe this is a big problem already existing in socialized health care, you're not looking. England is in very bad shape and rationing is running rampant. Canada is not as bad...yet...but long waits are still common. Are you ready to watch your elderly parents, grandparents, friends, etc, be denied expensive care, based solely on their age? There are millions of "baby boomers" around my age that will be needing a lot of health care in a few years. Those costs will hit the government like a giant wall. I've been accused of being hypocritical if I accept Social Security or Medicaid when I get older. The government has been robbing the Social Security fund ever since they discovered they could get away with it. If all the money they took from the Social Security fund, and spent in the general fund, was still there...there would be enough money to pay for any care imaginable for the elderly.

Capitalism is not perfect either...except when compared to government efficiency. P.J. O'rourke is famous for saying something like, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's free."

It really bothers me when people refer to government health care as being free. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's like we, as a nation want to just give up...throw up our hands and beg the government to take care of us from cradle to grave. This is a new attitude for America. 50 years ago, when I was a kid...having to take welfare money, even for a short time, was considered demeaning, shameful...something to be avoided at all costs, if possible. Welfare and government help was a last resort. Now it's a first resort. Over the years the government's role in our lives has grown and grown. Their ability to spend money inefficiently is almost magical.

Social Security is broke. Medicare is broke. The whole government is broke. They haven't even been able to manage a measly 1 billion dollar "cash for clunkers" program. Why should we trust the health care of our parents, grandparents, and even our own lives in the future to the government in a program that will cost over ONE TRILLION dollar...that we don't have...just to get started. When the government says one trillion...you can pretty well count on 10 times that amount.

caroline said...

Found it, wish you luck.

In the UK we have the NHS, National Health Service, a lottery at best of times.

To get an appointment with a doctor, ( general practitioner ), we are told to phone after 8am. To test the system I once used two phones with fast redial 80 times in 10 minutes with no luck! I have never been able to use this system and speak to someone! luckily the practice is 100 meters away so I wait outside for the doors to open as the phones are switched on and still sometimes it is not possible to get an appointment or they give you one in the next town, some sort of test perhaps. Blood is boiling because I have been through all this for Julie who has vertigo and the pharmacy said that it was not possible to sell any useful drug direct so she had to have a spinning head for three days only to be prescribed the thing which could not be sold!

Not fitting in any boxes has it's benefits, my doctor, I will only see one in the practice, will stop in the street and chat to see how I am, helps to be an interesting case!

If I asked to go the GRS route that would be a whole new pantomime involving years waiting for appointments and thousands of miles of travelling to the far ends of the british isles to the very few resources available and if finally successful there is a catch 22 which would denigh me the change of birth certificate!

Neither system works properly.

Caroline x

Anonymous said...

Now I know I'm getting long winded...I had to cut my post in half to have it accepted...lol...sorry.


What's so great about private health insurance? I don't know...ask the 80% who say they are happy with it, in a recent poll by Rasmussen. I'm fine with mine. It costs me about $45 a week. They've paid out about $40,000 on me over the last several years and my part was about $3800. I can live with that if it keeps the government bureaucrats from making health care decisions for my doctor. Why tear all that up and start over just to drive the nation further into bankruptcy? It's just the wrong thing to do in MY HUMBLE OPINION.

I hope I don't sound belligerent, angry, or condescending in this post. However, every time I take the opposite opinion, I get lambasted, called names, etc., and it really bothers me that people would attack my views with the politics of personal destruction. I'm anxious to see if anything changes in your blog Melissa. :) I will comment only as long as it remains civil.

Oh, I read the article you posted. It's an article which expounds all the newest talking points being put out by Nancy Pelosi. The new rant is to demonize the insurance companies. I agree that insurance companies can be cantankerous, but this is a ridiculous attempt to make them into the devil himself. In the past the same thing has been done to oil companies, the banks, Wall Street, and even GM...anything that makes big profits. Now it's the insurance companies' turn. The government wants to compete with insurance companies. Well there is no competition there...the government does not have to make a profit and it can raise taxes anytime it needs more money...at least until people come to their senses.

It's easy to find articles in favor of socialized medicine. It's also easy to find articles explaining why it's a bad idea. I guess it all depends on our preconceived notions on the subject, huh? Ok...gotta quit...lol. Hugs, Suzi

PS...did you get any pics of your recent outing? :)

Melissa said...

My dear sister is a freelance hairdresser, and because of this she didn't have employer paid health care, which from my perspective is not all that great anyway. She happened to have a pre-existing condition, so the insurance company charged her over $700 a month for an insurance policy! That is nothing short of robbery.

No one in America is advocating a British or Canadian system, and a government option doesn't necessarily have to resemble them. There are other government health care systems in other countries that keep costs down, and seem to keep people pretty happy with them. The problem is health care for profit: a relatively recent phenomenon, even in America. If a government health care program helps to drive insurance prices and doctor fees down, then in my opinion that can only be a good thing. Money talks in the the US and the insurance companies, hospital corporations and big pharma have all the money they need to mount huge propaganda campaigns, intended to maintain the status quo at our expense. It pains me to see my fellow countrymen fall so easily for their subterfuge. They have bought out many our politicians, and together they are playing us all for suckers. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. It's an American issue that we desperately need to come together on, and we will never be able to do that until we get honest with each other and stop playing the political game. 42 million Americans going without health care is national disgrace. So is the fact that even people with paid private health care, often go bankrupt, when they have a major illness. How will maintaining the status quo ever address that reality?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, Everybody on every side of the issue can point out anecdotal incidences, examples, and evidence to support their side.

I don't know what kind of system you think Obama is looking for. I grant you, he has said he is against a single-payer plan. Hmmm...on the other hand, I've heard audio of him telling union gatherings that that is EXACTLY what he wants. He told them it might not happen immediately...it might take several years before it could be put into place. Speaker Pelosi and others have openly stated that they want a single-payer system...socialized medicine...government controlled.

I personally don't understand what is so bad about profit. It's those profits that have paid for new research and development...new, better drugs...new and better technology. How is that going to continue without money? Profit is not always perfect but it does drive people to improve a product, create new products, and thusly improve health care. Making a profit is not a sin...it's not always greed and avarice. A company's profits help pay for better benefits, equipment, more employment, and a stronger economy. Without profit you have what?...no incentive to produce and grow...loss of employment, etc.

Why do we want to drive down doctor's fees? If we do, we will be telling new med students that they are wasting 10 years of their lives on education for nothing great. Government intrusion is a big part of the reason doctors have to charge so much. Insurance companies are not even allowed to sell across state lines. I can't buy cheaper insurance offered in New Jersey or someplace. Virtually every doctor has to pay tens of thousands of dollars every year just for malpractice insurance. It's not unusual for a doctor to pay $200,000 a year for it. Tort reform is one way to lower this. For example, in Texas, they passed new laws on malpractice suits...there are caps on compensation, etc. What has happened is that malpractice insurance premiums have dropped dramatically. Guess what has happened...over 7,000 doctors have moved to Texas just recently. The result has been greater competition which causes lower prices...lower malpractice premiums, which makes lower prices available.

Like I said, government will have no competition because it does not have to make a profit. They can pay whatever they want for a procedure. The result is RATIONED health care, not more and better health care...much less FREE health care.

You mentioned that insurance companies, etc, mount big propaganda campaigns to maintain the status quo. That is true...but something else you said is true...they are in bed with politicians. Who will run our health care under the desired single-payer system? POLITICIANS. It's the politicians that are playing us all for suckers. They come from both sides of the aisles and will do whatever it takes to get re-elected. I love what you said...it's not about liberal or conservative issues...it's an American issue. That is so true! We do ALL need to come together and begin to demand that the politics cease...that our politicians get their heads outta their asses and start serving US instead of the other way around. I personally believe they can serve us best by getting out of the way. They can help by passing laws that will make competition possible...pass tort reform...whatever it takes. But what we do NOT need is for Obama to ram this massive program down our throats when it is so destructive and counter-productive.

Anonymous said...

Another political game being played is that there are over 40 million uninsured Americans. A more realistic number is around 15 million. In that 42 million are 12-20,000 illegal immigrants. There are 15 million or so, young, healthy individuals that don't feel they need health insurance and wish to spend their money on other things. Such is freedom.

You mentioned those that suffer catastrophic illness and end up bankrupt. How much would it cost for us to just help those with real needs? Couldn't the government just subsidize THEM? Why do they think they need to completely take over every facet of health care for over 300 million people...most of which do not WANT them to? You're right, the status quo is not good enough. We need a national debate on the role of government. We need to spend some time thinking about what will help and what will hurt. What does Obama think about that idea? He wants to ram it down our throats before anyone can even read the bill. WHY? What's the hurry? Is this just a power grab or something? If not, then why the emergency rush? He keeps saying that we can keep our doctor and health plan but he's lying. Page 16 of the health bill forces anyone that loses coverage or even changes coverage to be enrolled in a government approved plan...to be chosen at random by who?...the government. We all know what government approved means...government controlled.

There are free market answers that are will not take away our freedom of choice. We need to do like you said...we need to get honest and quit playing the political game. Our government is playing the biggest political game I've seen in my whole life. They are the bully on the block and they will make the rules. We will eventually have no, or very little say in managing our health care. They will have the power to decide who lives and who dies.

Printing the money to pay for socialized medicine will cause inflation on everything else we have to buy or consume. Let's talk Mr. President. We're in no big hurry, so you don't have to be...IF you're really interested in a dialogue and debate as opposed to a tyrannical power grab of something so necessary to our lives. Control our health care and you control US. No thanks.

Leslie Ann said...

Sorry I read all that. I feel like I've been stuck in an AM radio for ten minutes, time that I'll never get back. *sigh*

Something has to change. My employer has to change providers every two years because they jack up the price. My daughter has autism, and we go around and around with the insurance company. They deny speech therapy as experimantal treatment. Insuring for profit just ensures that payment for services will be delayed or denied.

I wish Obama would just present a plan instead of letting Congress create a still-born camel. But the Clinton experience made that look like a no-go. We are going to get a plan that makes no one happy, watered down with loopholes you could drive a Hummer through. We need real reform. And socialism is not a dirty word, it's just drawn that way.

Oy! My head hurts.

Melissa said...

I'm with you 100% Leslie Ann. The status quo is completely unacceptable, but there are elements in congress so vested in it, that I fear we will never solve this problem. Over the decades these elements have become very adept at selling fear to prevent legislation for anything they don't want. In the case of health care, it's the absurd argument of the big bad government boogeyman, dragging us down the road to godless socialism. To me it's just plain selfishness, and an obstinate refusal to face facts, which to me seems far more godless. Those who do not want change, are satisfied with what they have, and as far as those left with the short end of the stick, well....the plain truth is they really don't care about them. Otherwise they would be willing to make compromises. When you bring up the fact that 42 million Americans are without health care insurance, they attempt to dismiss that argument, by parsing those figures into what they have determined to be irrelevant sub groups, undeserving of health care insurance. The fact is, everyone, regardless of age or immigration status, gets sick and/or has accidents. When they do, they go to the emergency room and they get treatment, but we all end up paying for it in higher hospital costs and insurance fees. Even those who are insured, are not immune to being left out in the cold, as witnessed by you and countless others, who have been denied claims, or charged exorbitant fees, because of pre-existing conditions. And god help you if you even if you have insurance, and you get a catastrophic illness, but don't have supplemental insurance to cover what your primary insurance refuses to cover.

As for drug pricing, ever watch the nightly news on TV? If you have you know how the drug manufacturers bombard us with incessant commercials, attempting to persuade us into pressuring our doctors to prescribe their drugs to us. Many of these drugs are no better, and sometimes worse than existing cheaper drugs, and many of them also have horrible toxic side effects. They literally spend billions of dollars a year on these mega-priced prime time TV ads, pushing those drugs. They also devote huge amounts of money to marketing those drugs directly to doctors, by wining and dining them. Then they lobby their sycophants in congress, to pass laws denying Americans the right to purchase those very same drugs at far less cost, from foreign countries that regulate drug prices. Wouldn't it make more sense to can those completely unnecessary expensive ads, and marketing campaigns,and subtract those costs from their drug pricing? Medically uneducated patients should let their doctors, not the drug companies determine what drugs they need, and their doctors can keep up with what drugs are relevant by reading their medical journals.

Brittany Roche said...

Sing it sister!

For those who don't want "socialized health care" what do you think Medicare is?

I know far too many people who have NO health insurance because they simply cannot afford it. One has a heart valve problem and could not afford to get the problem corrected. She is not long for this world.

All Americans should have access to the best health care available, and it's shocking that is not the case!