Sunday, August 17, 2008

Health Care Rant

This morning I feel like complaining again about health care. My feathers have been ruffled by an April article in the Wall Street Journal by Jonathan Kellerman, The Health Insurance Mafia.
Using personal experience he connects two easy to find dots, insurance and health care.

His "Mafia" is, of course, the insurance people, not the providers.

You don't need to be an economist to understand that any middleman interposed between seller and buyer raises the price of a given service or product...
The health insurance model is closest to the parasitic relationship imposed by the Mafia and the like. Insurance companies provide nothing other than an ambiguous, shifty notion of "protection." But even the Mafia doesn't stick its nose into the process... When insurance companies insinuate themselves into the system, their first step is figuring out how to increase the skim by harming the people they are allegedly protecting through reduced service.


The writer illustrates the point from personal experience.

Several years ago, I suffered a sports injury that necessitated an MRI. The "fee" for a 20-minute procedure was over $3,000. My insurance company refused to pay, so I informed the radiologist that I'd be footing the bill myself. Immediately, the "fee" was cut by two thirds. And the doctor was tickled to get it.


I can't go on or I'll get incoherent. I have no way to help those who misses one blindingly clear point: Health care comes from health care providers, not insurance companies. Insurance companies exist to make profits for their share-holders. Therefore, every dollar of profit reported by the insurance industry is one less dollar not paying for health care.

The beginning of the chain is neither the provider nor the insurance company. The money comes from those who pay the insurance premiums.

Those who argue in favor of "affordable health care" never breathe a word about "affordable health insurance" because at some level they understand that therein lies a contradiction.



Go to Guaranteed Health Care Dot Org

9 comments:

Tammi Diaz said...

We need HR676 SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH INSURANCE PEOPLE NOT PROFIT. FAMILY VALUES!

The Insurance Companies are only out to make $MONEY$.

We are Loosing our Sense of Self Worth and Family Values Due to our
CAPITALIST SYSTEM!

Hoots said...

The bill you mentioned has a website,
http://www.hr676.org/

I don't have a problem with our "capitalist system" as you put it, but there is clearly room for improvement when some of the poorest nations in the world can provide for the health care of their citizens and the United States does not.

The insurance industry is not about to vanish without a struggle, and if it did there would be bad economic consequences. Between the actual costs of health care and the profit lines at the other end lies a breathtaking number of employees, buildings and equipment that won't become obsolete overnight.

I like the idea of a government-sponsored safety net for costly cases, a variation on what the industry already calls "re-insurance." But I'm not any expert.

One thing looks certain. No matter who becomes the next president the issue of national health care is like a baby being born. No one will stop it this time. Lets just hope it isn't stillborn, having been poisoned by the insurance lobbies.

ConsumerAdvocate said...

We need to refocus health care on the consumer. To do this our health care system must empower consumers to exercise choices in health care and enable consumers to become active participants.

I developed a community website, www.outofpocket.com to help consumers look up prices for routine health care services, find out what other consumers paid for similar services, and find the best value. The website relies on consumers to post/share prices they paid for actual health care services -- to share with other consumers.

Our health care system should be providing this type of transparency, but unfortunately it does not.

A consumer driven market in health care will lower costs, promote innovation, expand choices and increase access to better medical care.

Mona Lori
www.outofpocket.com

Tammi Diaz said...

On January 27, 1995, I was in a auto/pedestrian accident. I receive a
severe traumatic brain injury and pelvic fracture. It was a real challenge to relearn how to feed my self, dress myself also learning how to walk. Life is more of a challenge for me now.
I have really learned to appreciate
life. I am proud of who I am. Life is
a Gift.

Since I was in my accident I have learned alot about life. All it takes is a accident or a major illness, does not matter if you have inadequate health or do not have health insurance, you can lose
everything.

Healthcare expenses cause 45 person of personal bankruptcies in the country. This causes families to fall apart.

I have been bless I am still married and I have alot support from family and the community. I did not lose anything.

Healthcare needs to be a right for all Americans, not a privilege.

The problem I have with our Capitalist System is that are having to go without the healthcare
that they need, there is alot people die a day, due to lack of health insurance or inadequate health insurance.

Healthcare costs and insurance premiums are astronomical.

www.guaranteedhealthcare.org

Hoots said...

Excellent idea and site.
As the database grows so will the effectiveness of its application.

Here are two links you need to visit:

Project VRM

The Patient as the Platform

Tammi Diaz said...

I understand what the consumer advocate is trying to say, but it is for people that are healthy or financially stable.

We still need HR676 SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH INSURANCE PEOPLE NOT PROFIT!
FAMILY VALUES!

www.guaranteedhealthcare.care.org

Hoots said...

Thanks, Tammi, for the follow-up. You are exactly right. A large part of the challenge is that health insurance is tangled too much together with employment. Even people who have health coverage through their employer don't really know what it costs because the company "picks up" some or all of the premium.

The whole corrupt system is embedded further by the employer's portion being listed as a "business expense" and the employee's portion being treated "pre-tax." In both cases it looks like something great when it's nothing but peanuts aimed at deceiving everyone into thinking it's a wonderful tax break.

Meantime there is NO provision for anyone unemployed. And between jobs COBRA premiums become too heavy for most unemployed people to bear and their health "insurance" becomes more a liability than an asset.

You will notice that I added a video above from the site you gave me which is also now linked in my post.

Life Insurance Canada said...

"You don't need to be an economist to understand that any middleman interposed between seller and buyer raises the price of a given service or product..."
Oh, every economist knows this is not true!!! There is something called "transaction costs" in the economy and exactly because of this middlemen exist! Ok, I am Toronto life insurance broker so you may not be listening to me, however, all brokers, dealers, agents, but also shops, auctions, markets etc. emerged because of human needs! It's would be much more expensive to deal without middlemen. The question is, what kind of form middlemen should have...
Lorne

Hoots said...

(Sorry to publish your comment so late. For some reason I didn't get an email notice and discovered it when I went post.)

What you say about brokers, agents and other "middlemen" is true for most goods and services. And in the insurance industry it holds true for liability, life, damage and other types as well.

Health care, however, is not optional. You can argue that competition improves quality, availability or price all you want, and it may be true of other products or services. But the blindingly obvious reality is that with health care in the hands of the insurance industry none of those has been achieved.

We might argue that health care IS optional. Clearly young people in good health don't need it... Yet. But the day will come, if they are either lucky or unlucky enough to need it, when they will understand the need for everyone to participate in everyone's health care.

It's worth noting, BTW that liability insurance for drivers is NOT optional. Nor is workers' comp for employers. I question whether legally mandated insurance is really all that sensitive to ameliorating those "transaction costs" you mentioned.