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Health Insurance Does Not Work Unless You Own An Insurance Company.

There is something morally wrong with the current health insurance industry. The act of making money off of health insurance means not paying for procedures. It means dropping people who become very sick and are in desperate need for the assistance health insurance is supposed to provide. It means cutting costs at the expense of the patient. It means private health insurance companies not allowing certain procedures because they deem them to be unecessary and thus letting capitalism determine a patient's needs rather than the health professional, their doctor.

So what should health insurance do?

Health insurance should cover you. It should not be run with profit in mind first and foremost, but with the well being of the patient as its primary objective.

I have a friend who thinks that America has a health industry 99% better than the rest of the world and we should not take on a complete overhaul of the system. I don't agree with this statistic. We are dead last when it comes to how we insure and cover our citizens in comparison to industrialized countries and our costs are twice as high compared to #1 France. I do agree that a complete overhaul of the system is not entirely necessary but I don't think that is what is happening. I think the way we are insured is being overhauled because it needs to.

He is afraid that Obama will create a health care system that is government run which will put private insurers out of business. To that I say "so be it." The only way they will go out of business is if they continue to operate as they have. They have a monopoly and if they are challenged they might drop prices and improve their coverage. But that is anti-capitalism, right? Wrong. Nothing speaks more to Capitalism than Competition.

A talking point against a public option for health care is that the government health care covered by insurance will be sub-par.  If this is true then those in fear of the socialized system of health coverage have nothing to worry about. Those who have no health insurance can finally get (sub-par) health insurance and those private insurance providers lose few of their customers because they offer a superior product. In the case of the person with Humana you pay more for greater value.

But what if I can get better health coverage for 1/5 the cost? Isn't that a good thing? A great thing?

I think so.

Here is another interesting benefit to a public plan. Businesses in America pay enormous fees to cover their employees. For example, with a public plan General Motors will save over 10 billion dollars immediately and this might help save the company. If American businesses can have employees covered by a public plan they can use that new capital they sace to compete with international businesses in the global marketplace by dropping the costs of their products and services which means more exports, more money, more jobs, more capital. Is that a bad thing?

Stop with the talking points and lets see both sides have an actual discussion on this issue and see where it leads us.

*cough*

Uh oh.

June 23, 2009 in BITCHING & SCHEMING | Permalink

Comments

There is utopia, which you represent and reality. If it was all that simple and straight forward, it would be done already.

So now let's actually talk about some other considerations you would have to make.

1) If GM had a govt plan it would save $10 billion? To GM in a vaccum, you are right...but what would actually happen is our most inefficient organization, i.e. the government could do a better job? No, it would cost more, and to pay for it....you guessed it higher taxes.
2) How would you handle the lawyers, and all the malpractice suits, which by the way accounts for approximately of 2% of our countries total GDP. So now everyone gets to sue the government?
3) The government has already squeezed rates on public medical programs today, i.e. Medicare and Medicaid...so why do you think a doctor cannot run a practice with only this patient base...or do you expect the doctors to be "Non-profit"? Hell why not make the whole country a non-profit? or why don't you volenteer to personally be a non-profit?
4) Illegal immigrants are some of the largest contributors to our increased health costs, how would you handle that? Our government is already paying for it now, so if you make the supply of these services more readily available, guess what demand will increase as well which will cost even more.
5) Emergency Room visits burden the system today, how would that change exactly? You would retrain everyone who is now accostumed to going to Emergency to start going to a regular doctor.

What say you Mr Utopia

Posted by: DFunk | Jun 23, 2009 10:56:23 PM

"If it was all that straightforward and simple, it would be done already"

Who's Mr. Utopia now? What country do you live in? When profit trumps everything else, inefficiency is the standard more often than not. Let me see if I can think of an example...Oh, HERE'S ONE! The war in Iraq that placed profit-making for private firms rather than the security of US citizens at the center of state policy. Or how about this one...The day immediately following hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration was busy allocating contracts to Blackwater and Halliburton instead of calling on the National Guard to aid US citizens. In both cases, the government turned over the nation's security to corporate cronies and for-profit contractors, and we know what the results were in both cases, don't we?

I've asked this question a few times before on this forum, and I've still to get a straight answer. What evidence is there to show that corporations are any more efficient than government-run entities? I'm not at all suggesting that government-run entities are efficient and free of corruption, but haven't we learned that unmonitored corporate, monopolistic greed has been disastrous for this country? I think our health care system is a good enough example of that without having to mention the other elephant in the room.

And one last thing, since you threw it out there, Mr. DFunk, can you please provide some evidence for #4? Because last time I checked, 1996 Welfare Reform took care of that. Thanks.

Posted by: Cyndy G. | Jun 23, 2009 11:56:17 PM

You are right on this not being simple and if it was it would've been done long ago but probably not for the reasons that you think.

The debate over "healthcare" is a complex one, because the topic is. The problems with the health of Americans go beyond medical care or medical care insurance. But the primary topic in Washington is the legislation now being crafted to address medical care insurance. It is widely recognized and backed up with that costs are too high and coverage is too low. There are rabid injustices in the system that are causing real suffering and even death.

How do I know? Because I was and am one of those people suffering and a lack of healthcare killed my sister. That's a story for another time obviously and no need to make this emotional. Let's stick with facts.

The problem is that the ongoing debate over how to reform the medical care insurance system is inevitably caught up in the usual Washington political games, as "covered" by an attention-deficit media. The other problem with getting the facts on this is that the very future of the Republican Party hinges on the defeat of healthcare reform - in any shape or existence -- that achieves any form of cost controls. Go back to the 90s debates and read a memo written by the former VP Quayle COS Bill Kristol who, along with Grover Norquist, sounded the alarm for Republican lawmakers to mobilize to defeat healthcare reform (LINK). Not because they had a better idea but they realized that a party built upon the premise that government is the enemy and can do no right ceases to exist if government does something this big and gets it right (Which is why you are seeing people like Sen. Grasserly say on MSNBC that they fear the public option because it will be successful: LINK). The real issues and the real human consequences are often overlooked, as for example in the widespread failure of the media to cover (http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/06/22/when-health-insurance-isnt-health-insurance-contd/) testimony on the tragedies being suffered because of the current medical insurance system.

It's called "rescission of coverage". Here's a link to the LA Times article on it and if you can read this and not at least understand the above writer's belief - and mine - that this is a moral issue as much as a policy issue then I believe that may say more about you sir than it does about him.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rescind17-2009jun17,0,5870586.story

Coverage and politics are responding to money--very big money. A guy by the name of Nate Silver dissects the influence of insurance company lobbying and campaign contribution bucks on Members of Congress, especially centrist Democrats who are currently our biggest obstacle to real reform not Republicans as I've shown you previously that they were never ever going to vote for this anyway. Here's a link to his analysis:

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/special-interest-money-means-longer.html

As I touched on earlier that's because the stakes are so high, and the probable impact of this legislation so potentially powerful that it may overwhelm the specifics of the situation, especially for those who fear a public option.

It's hard for anyone to dispute that medical insurance costs are bankrupting businesses large and small, and government on every level (they are a major cost for schools, for example.) It's hard for anyone with a pulse to deny that the medical insurance industry, which has become utterly dominant since the last attempt to deal with the issue in the 90s, has instituted all kinds of inequities and perpetrated all manner of injustices. The old argument-- that government medical insurance would mean your doctor doesn't decide on your appropriate treatment and you lose choice--can't be taken seriously after decades in which private insurance companies have made those decisions, driving both patients and doctors crazy.

But the argument--which centers on a government medical insurance plan, similar to what Congress itself enjoys, co-existing with private plans-- is even more fundamental. The argument is about whether companies ought to be in the business of making profits, when their business is providing medical insurance. And that argument can be extended to other approaches to the public good. It represents a practical and philosophical switch from the move towards privatization since the 1980s.

It's important to say just what "profit-making" means. Profit isn't about a business bringing in enough money to pay its employees well, and to run its business, including research and development. What "profit-making" means is running the business to primarily make corporate profits above and beyond the costs of the business, to increase stock value and quarterly reports, to use to acquire other businesses for the purpose of larger profits and paper power, and to spend lavishly on advertising, marketing, lobbying and political contributions, to further enhance and guarantee profits, and big bucks for the few at the top.

Since the age of Reagan, running something "like a business" was sold as a way to increase efficiency and service, and foster innovation. All that makes sense, but it isn't what happens in the real world. If the primary purpose is to create profits, then services aren't made more efficient--they are cut. Employees are not well-paid, they are exploited. Corners are cut. Money is poured into insulating the business from the consequences of providing bad products and services. Money goes into selling the illusion of good products and services rather than making and providing them. That's partly why Detroit's commercials were so much better than their cars.

We've seen what happens when products and services crucial to the public good traditionally provided by government entities or as public utilities were privatized: with few and usually temporary exceptions, the results were higher costs, more waste and abuses, all for profit, not for purpose.

No one involved in the medical insurance debate wants to address this point so directly. Proponents of a public option don't make the argument, but assume that people see health and medical care as a special case. For example, Paul Krugman summarizes the objection to the public plan:

"Thus Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska initially declared that the public option — which, remember, has overwhelming popular support — was a "deal-breaker." Why? Because he didn’t think private insurers could compete: "At the end of the day, the public plan wins the day." Um, isn’t the purpose of health care reform to protect American citizens, not insurance companies?"

By constructing his final question in that way, Krugman rhetorically assumes agreement on the answer. But for some, protecting corporations and their profits is the overriding concern. It is more important than life or death. It is more important than health. For other people, and for the society as a whole.

Here's a link to the entire piece by Krugman:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/opinion/22krugman.html?_r=1&em

President Obama is being cagey on the public option. He argues forcefully for it, but refuses to say it is necessary to a law he will accept. This possibly has helped him get concessions from corporations, such as the huge deal (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/06/23/healthcare/index.html?source=rss&aim=/news/feature) he made with drug companies to cut drug costs for seniors. But his arguments for the public plan are compelling, and they go to the heart of the issue, as in his press conference today, when he warned that companies can't continue to make maximum profits by not providing good services. So it seems very unlikely he will support legislation that doesn't include a public plan option.

Recent polls show that an overwhelming percentage of Americans favor a public plan. In fact to argue against is, I would argue, a radical, fringe and out-of-touch-with-reality postion. A postion that is opposed by LESS people that view Vice President Cheney favorably. But a public plan was all but a foregone conclusion in the Clinton administration, until the corporations and their political allies turned the tide. The fight is just beginning, but if reforms that include a public option really happen, it is a turning point in our ability to deal with not only current challenges, but the challenges of the future. It would not mean government runs everything, but that some sense of public good and service may return to important enterprises, and profit-making will no longer be the only value, or the last word in every argument.

As far as your five points those are pretty simple to address.

1. Let's just say it resulted in higher taxes (Talk about your points made in a vacuum btw. LOL) but resulted in: lower healthcare costs, more productivity in the workplace because you're there more and healthier, costs of healthcare is reduced or removed from small and large businesses balance sheets and profits increase as does your salary and possibly your 401k etc. I could go on and on what the ripple effects here are but the overarching point - or question - should not be "what if my taxes go up" but how much as it relates to decrease in other items in your cost of living. The evidence is overwhelming in other countries that it pales in comparison.

2. Let me make sure I get this. You are worried about so much about how lawyers will get by that you're willing to sacrifice making health care affordable? While I respect that it accounts for 2% of our GDP healthcare costs are expected to be FIFTY percent of our GDP very soon because of skyrocketing costs with no end in sight. For some reason i'm guessing that the lawyers will do just fine and if other countries and figure out an acceptable method to sue for malpractice unless your point is that the French are smarter than us? WTF?

3. You got me. I don't know how Doctors are going to make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year if we switch from a morally bankrupt and unsustainable for-profit health care system to one that makes health care affordable and accessible to everyone. It's a moral issue to me not a issue of profit so you got me there. If you can watch that congressional testimony linked above and make that concern your justification for allowing that to continue then I think that says far more about you than it does about me.

4. If we deny "illegals" medical care we'll be cutting off our own nose to spite our face. I know many people have a knee jerk reaction "Why should I pay for them?", but we need to stop, think, and consider the consequences of leaving them without medical care. It costs us money for them to receive care in ERs because they can't see a proper doctor. The longer they go without regular care the worse off they will be when they go to the ER and the more expensive it ultimately proves to be to treat them. It also costs us money to pay for the others who may contract illnesses from them. Personally, I consider it the decent thing to provide them with care, but even if you don't share that belief, you should consider how leaving them without treatment could affect YOU. Would you're solution - in a world of flus and communicable diseases such as H1N1, SARS, Bird Flu and MRSA to name a few but here's a link to a whole list of them: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_threats/com/comm_diseases_annexe1.pdf - really be to just let them walk the streets? If so...wow.

5. That's probably the easiest one of the bunch. Keep in mind we aren't going to the moon first here. Every industrialized nation has done this before us so we have data that shows that your bewilderment is unfounded. Yes, if healthcare is affordable people will go to the doctor more and not wait until they have to go to the ER because they waited to long. It's happened everywhere else because affordable access to healthcare changes the culture to wellness not sickness-centered care.

One other thing to consider. After a month of the GOP beating up on this and regurgitating Frank Lutz talking points verbatim the support for a public plan is in the 70's and you still cling to those talking points.

Good luck with that. It seems like you are the one that isn't operating in "reality" not the above writer.

Posted by: CaptainFuture | Jun 24, 2009 1:38:57 AM

I'm a big proponent of the single-payer system. I don't think that the word "profit" can be associated with health care. Associate the two, and you get our present system. Anyone who thinks that our existing system works has not used it recently (other than perhaps having a yearly physical). I'm only 46, with only a couple of medical problems that I've dealt with so far, and I'm scared *hitless about growing older in this country.

Posted by: Vicky | Jun 24, 2009 7:48:24 AM

I agree with you Vicky. Profit should not be associated with healthcare. An insurance company's first priority should be the patient not their bottom line.

Posted by: Susan | Jun 24, 2009 9:11:49 AM

Excellent points, guys.

To a person, I sense a strong resentment of the government/lawyers/immigrants in every point made against the public option. That clouds every point these people make. It's almost like a template that could apply to any issue: government bad, lawyers bad, immigrants bad, all drain good ol' Americans. You gotta hand it to them: Reagan, Beck et al. trained them well. It's too bad Obama has to take them seriously.

Posted by: Ian McGibboney | Jun 24, 2009 9:47:48 AM

Well what would a republican be with a strawman and/or boogeyman?

BOO!!

Posted by: CaptainFuture | Jun 24, 2009 11:00:29 AM

a stream of conciousness on health care. please add your thoughts . . .

What would happen if Healthy Americans. I mean generally healthy people between 18 and 35 just up and left the current health system in droves? Coverage would dip for the remaining customers . . but if there isn't a change this is a very real threat. As people start to realize that if they eat better, excerise and simply wash their friggin hands more often they can remain relatively healthy and subsidize their own health care costs they will begin to leave. All that has to happen is that the people slowly and surely move away from a culture of fear. I pay more than 10k a year for health care. This covers ins and co pays for five HEALTHY people. With 5 check ups 2 pairs of glasses and a few inevitable problem visits to the pediatrician for the kids Aetna won't pay out HALF of what I pay them. Thankfully I will give Aetna this 5 - 8 thousand dollar GIFT every year. So what if I do this. The next time open enrollment comes around, I'll just opt out and keep my 10k. I will pay out of pocket for yearly check ups (about 2k) and for sick visits as they come up and if things hold the way they have been, I should still be up at least 5k at years end every year. If some serious illness comes up as the years go by we should have been able to save up enough money to finance a move to Canada with ease. I'll love my country just as much as it loves me, thus bouncing on them when times get tough.
Question: IF THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT TAKE CARE OF US CAN WE NOT GET TOGETHER AND TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES. CAN ALL THE DISGRUNTLED DOCTORS AND NURSES AND PATIENTS AND FORMER INS INDUSTRY FOLKS SEEKING REDEMPTION GET TOGETHER AND START A NON-PROFIT INSURANCE COMPANY? A COMPANY WHERE PEOPLE PAY FOR COVERAGE AND GET COVERAGE AND PROFIT FOR THE INS COMPANY IS TAKEN OUT OF THE EQUATION. WHAT WOULD THAT LOOK LIKE?

Posted by: Dale | Jun 24, 2009 11:41:36 AM

if a doctor pays 50/hr for mal practice ins. but packs four 15 minute 400$+ visits into every hour (as most GPs do) for seven hours a day then that 50 bucks amounts to 3.15% of their income. And this is assuming to you have a doctor that isn't on the payroll at one of the pharm. companies. That makes the % even less. OH WOE IS THE DOCTOR. I don't have any sympathy for doctors who cry mercy for their insurance and their pager bills WHATEVER! ESPECIALLY if it's only 50 bucks an hour when they make so much. By comparison to many of their patients doctors live like KINGS in part because so much of OUR salaries go to paying THEM. If my doctor pays3% of his/her salary for that ins - and I have to pay 22% of my much more meager salary just to see this salesman for 15 minutes then Doc can go jump in a lake. They get no sympathy from me. We I see a doctor living like a surf, trying to raise his/her kids in an apartment in a crap neighborhood, skipping meals so that he/she can scrimp enough money to send their kid to community college - like a friggin school teacher - then maybe I'll second guess my assesment.

Posted by: Dale | Jun 24, 2009 1:39:17 PM

I do not fully understand the healthcare "problem", but why would anyone support a proposal that will set this country on a dangerous course to a unitary system, or some such government controlled or dictated healthcare delivery system. And make no mistake about it, that is where this foundational "public option" proposal is designed to take us eventually.
As I understand the "problem", healthcare is expensive (yes it is), and many folks want someone else to pay for it (get real). But does anyone who does not live in abject denial really think that a government system will "control" costs in a way that does not compromise care and treatment?

Posted by: MAD | Jun 25, 2009 1:22:50 PM

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