Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reforming Health Care is Pretty Simple

Every day on the radio, on the news, on the Daily Show, I hear about how President Obama is trying to renovate the health care system. You hear all sorts of scary words thrown around: Socialism, "death panels" (thanks, Sarah!), public plans, 60% taxation, etc. None of this would even be necessary if people in Congress would stand up to the private insurance companies and tell them to get their act together. We don't need regulated health care, we need regulated health insurance companies. The health care system in this country is broken because of insurance companies, who don't want to pay two dimes for your specialized perscription, especially if it's only doled out by a non-preferred provider.

That's one of my favorite terms in all of private health care. It's not my preferred provider (Providence hopsital); it's theirs (Alaska Regional hospital). One of those providers knows what CF is--in fact, they have a clinic. The other one doesn't. In fact, every time they see "CF culture" on my sputum labs, they actually send the sample to Providence. That's a rant for another day, though. My preferred mail-order pharmacy is CF Services Pharmacy (wonder why?), but if I order my specialized meds through CFSP, my insurance won't cover it because it's not their preferred mail-order pharmacy, which constantly gets my orders wrong or lose my prescriptions. If you have cystic fibrosis, Medco is not your best bet, kids.

So we don't need a public plan, and I don't really want one. My taxes would go up, and I wouldn't mind that if the public plan were only for people who tried to be healthy, but inevitably, the public plan would go to boozehounds and crack junkies who can't afford private insurance, and I don't want to pay one dime of my money to help them with their horrible life choices. Nobody who already has insurance through their employer is going to switch, because no matter how bad their plan is, it's cheaper (through their employer) than paying for it themself.

A public plan is not the answer. Our representatives in Washington need to come down hard on the policies of private insurance companies. Regulate them if need be, but get those f*ckers to play ball.


BrianR said...

Wrong, reforming health care is not simple. If so, why hasn't it been done?

You're correct that additional regulations of the insurance companies would help ... and those measures are a huge part of the various versions of this bill working their way through committee. But, in addition, if the insurance co.s have some competition from a not-for-profit entity then they might stop jacking premiums just to make a profit ... that's what the public OPTION is designed to do. In a way, that's a market-based solution ... I don't think ultra-heavy regulation (i.e., "coming down hard") by itself would work (or get through Congress anyway).

As for plans always being cheaper through employer ... maybe right now ... but this reform, for once, is looking ahead more than one political cycle trying to prevent catastrophe.

"...inevitably, the public plan would go to boozehounds and crack junkies who can't afford private insurance, and I don't want to pay one dime of my money to help them with their horrible life choices."

Yeah, and maybe to some actual disadvantaged people too ... but that's besides the point ... you are ALREADY paying for them when they go to the emergency room for care and your premiums go up due to uncompensated care! Nearly every health expert, across the spectrum, agrees that uncompensated care is a significant factor in the rising costs. The solution is to make sure everyone is covered ... the difference is in how to accomplish that. How does stricter regulation of insurance companies do that? What's the limit of strict regulations? At some point, the industry would be so hamstrung by regulation that it would be far more efficient to have a single-payer system.

As for 'death panels', as estimated 20,000 people a year die because of lack of coverage (i.e., they can't afford it). One might argue that insurance companies are essentially deciding that they are simply too poor to live.

Anonymous said...

The only "death panels" are the ones in the insurance companies. THEY are the bureaucrats who decide if you get coverage for cancer treatment or not.

The fact is insurance companies are BLOOD SUCKERS that charge ten times what it actually costs to insure a patient. There are TWO ways to fix this meltdown:

1. Come down on the insurance companies hard and make them squirm until they get their act together (I'd also pour molten gold down their throats to see how they like all that money, but that average American would see that as cruel and medieval). This plan won't work because congress is bought and paid for by the price-gouging insurance bastards, and they will block ANY legislation to regulate the industry.

2. Do a public option with low prices and actual CHOICES of providers and doctors, that FORCES the private insurance goliaths to get competitive and lower their prices. This MAY pass but again congressmen are bought by the goliaths and will LIE about the plan "bankrupting" the country and "death panels" and all that BS.

Mike from Ottawa said...

"I don't want to pay one dime of my money to help them with their horrible life choices"

In a nutshell, that's why US health care won't get serious reform. You would (both the broad "you" and you personally) would rather continue to pay far more for your own health care than anyone else in the world just so you can enjoy your moral outrage. Everybody else in the industrial world covers those folk who make bad lifestyle decisions that affect their health and every one of them has a system that costs less than yours (the next most expensive costs only about 60% of yours per capita) and 36 of them do so while achieving better results (according to the WHO) than your system does.

That's leaving aside the fact that many of the people who have no health insurance coverage in the US are not people who make bad lifestyle decisions but are simply poor or are not poor but don't have employment that provides health care (stitching together a living from multiple part-time or contractor jobs, etc). There are plenty of people who do have health insurance and also make bad lifestyle decisions involving legal substances like food and alcohol, which produce far more health harm in total than do illegal drugs (and most of their harm is due to illegality). The bad life choices of people already on your plan are already costing you money.

Indulge your moral outrage at people who are not the paragons of good sense you are, but know you are paying a price for it with higher costs to yourself, your economy, your society and your country.

BTW, Canada usually finishes better than only the US in cost and outcomes, so there's a lesson perhaps in having pure systems.