566 – Warning Shot • 02

566

Large Heavy Cross/Small Wooden Shield

How do you judge if your health insurance is worth the money you’re paying for it? On one end of the spectrum is the government-run, single payer Medicare. Medicare isn’t allowed to drop you if you get sick,  doesn’t care when you first came down with rickets, and accounts for 3.5% of the total health care cost of participants. On the other hand is pretty much everyone else in the private health insurance business. Private insurance will drop you if you gain weight, get sick, or age, considers freckles to be a reason not to treat your melanoma, and costs 30% of the total bill.

Okay, but what does private insurance offer that Medicare doesn’t? The clarion call for most private insurance advocates is that the private plan eliminates waste that Medicare doesn’t. In other words, private insurance saves you money by costing you nearly ten times as much. And what exactly does “waste” mean? It means treatments that doctors advise their patients to take that insurance administrators refuse to allow. I shudder to be the cause of such waste.

A useful tool to understanding what is actually being discussed here is to really understand what it is that Medicare and private insurance do. You give them money, and when you need medical attention, they give your money to the doctors. That’s it. If you took the money you pay to your insurance company and put it into a bank instead, by the time you really needed it you could easily pay for all the treatment you would ever need, and pay for your retirement as well. Most people don’t do that, and it isn’t realistic to expect them to start now. But the fact remains that in essence, you are paying an extra 30% to a company to hold your money, and then to tell you how you are allowed to spend it.

Does Medicare do this as well? Yes, though according to the people who prefer private insurance they don’t do it as much. If we are able to have a state-run, single payer plan for everyone in America will it tell you which medical treatments you are allowed to receive? Yes, although if Medicare is any prognosticator (and we have no reason to assume it is not) it will still be better for the consumer than private insurance.

60% of American bankruptcies in 2007 were due to medical costs. Of those, nearly 80% held private insurance at the beginning of their medical emergency. To shave the pin even more, half of that 80% had lost their insurance by the time they filed for bankruptcy. No one disagrees with the fact that the current system is broken, though many are disingenuous about wanting to see it fixed. There is, after all, a lot of money getting passed around over this.

So here is my take. Neither system is great. Medicare needs some reformatting to keep up with tax cuts, which threaten to put it under water. But this is doable. Private insurance is a boil on the butt of America. It’s painful, unsightly, and interferes with your life. But the one thing that you can say for Medicare that you cannot for private insurance is that it will be there for you.

What do you think?

(In an ironic twist, later in the afternoon on the day I wrote this, I got a letter from my insurer stating that my policy had been amended. It said that once I turn 65, my policy will no longer cover drugs that Medicare might, and I should probably look into getting signed up onto one of Medicare’s plans as well. Good to know.)

54 Responses to 566 – Warning Shot • 02

  1. this is one of the most well thought out arguments I have ever seen, this should be in a newspaper. (or better yet on certain peoples desks)

    • Not happening, he sounds too reasonable and as though he knows what he’s talking about. The only people allowed to speak out for non-privatized medicine in the U.S. media must poison support for the idea and make the arguments of the people arguing for the current system seem more reasonable and persuasive.
      Failure to comply with the above directive means your newspaper or other media company is saying goodbye to money from both the private medical insurance industry and the pharmaceuticals industry, both of which are filthy rich and tripping over stacks of c-notes they drop accidentally. Since most newspaper circulations and advertising budgets are already under stress thanks to Craigslist (and other things like it) they can’t afford to upset their paying advertisers, and especially not someone with the money to sue and tie it up in the courts for years.

      To put it simply, your newspaper is too poor to tell the truth even if it wanted to.

      • When you have two legitimate points of view it’s good to present both sides of an argument. But when one side is looking at the facts and the other is arguing about leprechauns you do a disservice to the public by presenting them as equal sides of the debate. Unfortunately, as A.C. points out, anyone who doesn’t allow the crazy people to have their say 〫is portrayed as an evil insider with an axe to grind.

        Have their say as an equal — I would never advocate denying anyone their first amendment rights, let’s just not pretend that crazy is a legitimate viewpoint.

        • Crazy *IS* a legitimate viewpoint. But I guess you haven’t met ______. (name withheld due to HIPA regulations.) 😀

          In my house, there a participants in both sides. I have private insurance through my employer. They suck because they have all kinds of stupid rules. For example, they are now “strongly encouraging” us to use the mail drug service instead of going to my local pharmacy for maintenance drugs (by strongly encouraging, I mean making it nigh impossible to do otherwise). This summer, I had to send off copies of birth certificates, school records, marriage license, etc. to prove that my family was my family. They quit covering lab work that is part of a doctor’s visit @ 100%, so now, when they do a quick strep test, I’ll get a bill in the mail (because the doctor’s office only accepts my co-pay at the time of the visit). However, if my doctor thinks a medical procedure is needed, I just schedule it; I don’t have to worry about waiting for approval from a board somewhere.

          My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is on M.A.P. (medical assistance program). She can only go to one clinic to see her one doctor. If the doctor thinks a procedure is required, the doctor has to submit it to a review board. They consider the case and approve or deny the request. If approved, they then have to schedule with one of the approved providers which may be months away. But, anything that is approved is covered by her co-pay ($10 per visit). Drugs can only be filled through one particular Walgreens, but they are covered by a co-pay as well (except a handful of drugs which she has to pay full price for — we’re working on getting those switched to something else that is covered).

          So it really comes down to freedom vs out of pocket expense. I have the freedom in terms of where I go (which doctor, which pharmacy, which procedures I schedule, etc.) whereas my mother-in-law has the better out of pocket ($10 covers the visit, regardless of what work is performed — no extra charge for lab work, etc.).

          • Just remember that those restrictions are all placed on you (and me) because we pay someone else to hold out money, give it to the doctors, and restrict our spending. We PAY them to do this to us.

        • I was only talking about those people arguing for death panels indirectly. My main point is that newspapers aren’t fair or balanced and they have a distinct financial incentive in arguing for the people with all the money. By distinct financial incentive I mean that many of them (most?) would go broke if they tried to be fair on the issue.
          Although talking about the death panel argument I suppose it’s fair to ask, just where did these people get this idea? It’s not in any of the prospective legislation under consideration at all. AT ALL! Folks like Dick Morris know: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=League_of_American_Voters

  2. Oh, Canada.
    The true north strong and free.
    You’ll never just get dropped
    (But you might still have to pay money)

    I like being Canadian, believe you me. A warning to Americans, though: moving to Canada does not automatically give you free healthcare. First you have to be born here or live here for 5 years and apply for citizenship. Also, ‘free’ is a misnomer and common misconception, but yeah, waaaaay better than the State’s.

    • Of course anyone who mentions Canada (or any other country than the U.S.) in this debate is labelled as a socialist… which as near as I can figure doesn’t actually mean anything. Maybe god doesn’t like socialists or something.

      I have heard that most Canadians are increasingly pleased with their healthcare payment options as the drama continues to unfold with their southern neighbors.

  3. I’m not an expert on Health Care. I read up a bit on it but it’s a complex subject. That said, I think you are missing a few things. For starters, there is a very good reason why Medicare doesn’t drop you regardless of your age or other factors. That’s because it’s manditory that absolutely EVERYONE pays for it. The losses on having to cure someone, when they are sick, is trivial to the 100% market the companies would get in return. This is why the Health Insurance industry is actively promoting the government take over (they even run adds on TV). For P.I., they have a much smaller base and yes, there will be disqualifiers for preexisting conditions (although I don’t understand them taking away benifits if you are a long term holder already) because it’s not insurance if they do not. That’s like getting the car dinged up and then trying to get car insurance. Not how it works.

    I think you are being harsh on admistrators, they are there to find efficiencies. Something I’m pretty sure you already know that government is abysmal at doing. Are they going to withhold treatments? Probably, but I know our Canadian Health system has plenty of drugs they don’t allow either. It’s an issue with all systems, I think.

    This is all mute anyway, Medicare is broke. You arn’t paying attention. This system is one of the two (military is the other) biggest expenses in America and all the money you baby boomers put into the system was spent by the govenment and replaced by a bunch of IOU’s for your troubles. You baby boomers are retiring now and the next generation simply CANNOT afford to keep you healthy. Within 10 years, more money will flow out of the system then into it and with the USA govenment already spending trillions of dollars in deficits for God knows how long, do you really think they can add a bunch more without something giving? Medicare may have always been there for your parents but I very much doubt it will be there for you by the end of 10-20 years. There is a very slow train wreck coming and this financial crisis has speeded up the day of reckoning .

    We need reform but in the form of more competition instead. Plenty of P.I. companies have deals that give them unnatural monopolies over states. That raises prices. We could also have higher deductibles. If the deductible was set at, say, 5,000$? Then that would prevent a fair amount of the frivolous waste that goes on with people going in for the sniffles and taking tests they don’t need. I’d like to see the system more like plastic/eye surgery. While most medical expenses continuously go up, isn’t it interesting how the ones that are considered cometic and aren’t covered by any programs and have dropped by such large margins during the same time period?

    One last note, while it may be unrealistic to expect people to save a bunch immediately, they really do need to start saving. True wealth is in savings. Not building up debt and living paycheck to paycheck until disaster strikes.

    • You can thank Bush for the bankrupting Medicare. When Clinton left office we had a surplus in Medicare… who said we should give money to the people? Bush.
      When did Medicare go bankrupt? Bush.
      Who at fault? Bush.

      I’m sorta thinking his advisers didn’t tell him what the surplus was funding (he made a mistake), but then I try to see good in everyone.

      • I don’t disagree with you on any particular point, Toma02. (Though I wasn’t ignoring anything, only trying to keep the discussion focussed.)

        Half of the plan here is to hit the reset switch on the funding sources for public healthcare insurance and get everything paid for. I didn’t mean to purposefully omit this, it’s just that should the plan pass, this should be moot.

        Bush hurt it, but the process of stealing money from Medicare began long before him, and has offenders on both sides. (Though destroying Medicare has been a long-held Republican goal. Democrats mostly just like to swipe funds to pay for other, less important things.)

  4. Insurance companies rake in huge premiums, pay off huge salaries to top execs (obscenely huge in some cases), pour money into the pockets of politicians, sink boatloads of money into advertising, administration costs, and stockholder payouts. They have to drop expensive medical cases just to stay rich. They’re so tangled up with politics, it’s hard to see who’s fighting for us, and who’s strings are being pulled by the vested intrests. A public option will only work if insurance-funded politicians don’t bungle it all to hell, and they’re already hard at work doing exactly that.

    I’m about ready to pack it in and move to Sweden or Denmark or someplace that actually does health care properly. I won’t be able to afford to live in America much longer- and I was born here! This whole thing sucks ass.

    • It’s a very real problem with extremely serious implications for every one of us, and you’re right. Our politicians will screw it up if they are allowed to. All of us need to use whatever forums we have at our disposal to speak out, in as public a means as possible, to let our voices be heard.

  5. Being in the UK I find it odd that the only two things I ever hear about healthcare in the States are either 1- how wonderful it is to have a properly financed medical insurance system as an individual and 2 – from individuals who weren’t able to pay the money for that properly financed medical insurance (despite being intelligent working people) who have then got sick and had huge medical bills that they’ve had to really chase every dollar to cover.

    I’m not going to get in to a pissing contest over who’s system is better, but it does make me happy that I don’t really have to worry about it over here!

    Incidentally, on tomaO2’s point, things could be worse even quicker, I heard on the radio yesterday morning that talks are going on to stop global oil payments having to be done using the dollar (moving to Yen, Euro and Yuan rather than one single specified currency) which could cause you lots of problems…

    • Yeah, that would be several flavors of disaster over here.

      It’s funny, as I see it, to track the progress of nations. Although comprised of (supposedly) equally sober personages as any other country, it seems to me that the U.S. is still in its rebellious teenaged years, as nations go. I think that the best eventual thing that could happen for the citizens of the U.S. would be for this country to lose some international dominance, and regain a little focus on what’s really important to us. You know… grow up.

      • I’d agree on the wake up call versus global dominance point, but since I’m not american myself I find it a little unfair to criticize your policies, specially when you actually have been dominating the market for the past decades. It’s no dummy’s job.

  6. Ok, I am going to take this from a different perspective. If you really want to lower health care costs? You have to change the way Malpractice Insurance is charged. Most people don’t realize that out of your 100$ doctor visit the average amount paid to MI is 20$ OR MORE. Because not only do the doctors have to be covered, but so does everyone in the office. Many times even the receptionist is covered. (If he/she has to handle any medical forms or records they have to be covered as well) I have grown up with family in the medical field from doctors to E.M.T.s and everyone thinks, yeah they make 40-50k or more a year. Great, but when you are paying out 5-10k a year just for MI (And this isn’t what doctors pay this is people like nurses) you do your job because you love it, not for the money. The fastest way to lower medical care is to revamp both the way they run medical staff ragged and change malpractice insurance.
    If a doctor didn’t have to worry about frivolous lawsuits, then costs would go down. If hospitals didn’t have to protect against people who sue because someone was terminally ill. (yes, this happens a lot), then costs could go down.
    I am not saying that there aren’t reasons to sue, but more often things could be worked out to where it never has to go to court, lawyers never have to get paid ridiculous fees, and Malpractice insurance wouldn’t need to be used.

    • In the states that have passed tort reform to address these specific issues, medical and insurance costs were not affected at all, and continued to rise along with the rest of the nation. However, medical costs are not presently the issue. (Though they will be next.) Currently the issue is medical insurance, which is a different ball of wax.

    • The problem with malpractice reform is that some doctors are genuinely bad, and others make mistakes that leave people with lost years, permanent injury and death.
      We Canadians have stories of doctors whose trail of malpractice killed people and the doctor involved ducked out of one province and started up working again in another without any apparent penalty. Doctors go through an institutional hazing period known as residency which makes them very, “He’s one of us,” type clannish, so one can’t rely on them to turn in bad doctors any more than one can rely on police to turn in their own instead of protecting them when they grow excessively corrupt. (I.E. it’s a crap-shoot.)
      The excessive rewards grew out of attempts to compensate people for lost years of life, permanent injury, costs of rehabilitation and further treatment, death, the losses due to wages that weren’t earned thanks to the screwup, and torturous pain. These things are important, so how does one avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater in malpractice suits?
      My personal preferred start of a solution is to increase the normal medical knowledge in the general population, doctors getting away with crappy work can only be found by people knowing better. This is unrealistic because the public education system as it’s currently designed and focused can’t handle that… but it’s a place to start talking.

  7. I’m in the UK as well, and I love how simple our system is, no choosing what to do or arranging it or paying the premium then worrying if you’re covered or not – you don’t even see the bill or know how much anything’s cost unless you ask – and being curious-minded I did ask. About ten years ago, I ended up under a horse when it fell over, and my medical bill for putting me back together and getting me walking again would have been about £75,000 (over $100,000) if I’d had to pay it – something which I’d have been in debt the rest of my life trying to pay off. So every time I see the national insurance tax eating a few pennies off my wages, I don’t mind one bit, cos I’ve had more than my money’s worth out of them already!
    I’ve also learnt how to fall the opposite way to the horse when things go really wrong, heh.

  8. I don’t have insurance – I pay out of pocket as I need to and it’s worked out okay so far, considering that I’ve spent less on health care in the entire past year than I would have paid in premiums for a single month on the last plan that was quoted to me.

    Now if only I was actually putting all that cash into savings instead of spending it on hookers and blow. 😉

  9. I have to say, Kevin, I agree with you 100%. Medicare isn’t flawless but it’s a better solution for the majority. Private healthcare and private medicine to a larger part are roadblocks and monopolies.

  10. These fancy bar graphs seem to say otherwise: http://ihcrp.georgetown.edu/agingsociety/pubhtml/Insurance/Insurance.html
    More info on their source: http://ihcrp.georgetown.edu/agingsociety/
    But who believes sleezy universities anyway?

    As for the bank account “insurance” idea, it doesn’t quite work. The purpose of insurance is to mitigate risk to keep an emergency from ruining your life. So the person with the traumatic accident gets his money worth, while everyone else gets shafted. But not really; you don’t know which you’ll be so insurance keeps you safe from risk. As for using medical insurance to pay for non emergency expenses like checkups, ya, that’s just plain stupid and something like legally enforcing bank account savings (or just personal responsibility) for these lesser expenses would be far better. Besides the insurance profits and costs that you do see, there are further expenses at the hospital end, and a lack of competition that you don’t see. So, for example, something costing $200 through insurance might cost $75 out of pocket with a little shopping around. This is an incredible amount of waste. OTOH that $125 (or w/e it is) on top of a $10,000 emergency bill covered by insurance is nothing.

    • Carrying your point one step further, much has been made of the fact that insurance companies could save considerable money by paying for preventative care… which is much less expensive than the medical care necessary AFTER people get sick. Unfortunately, this is short-term thinking. The actual numbers show the opposite.

      End of life care for the elderly tends to be considerably more expensive than the same for even a slightly younger person. This is simply because age takes so much longer to kill you than a (possibly preventable) ravaging disease does. Add in the extra life care of the person that wouldn’t have been necessary had they lived a shorter span, and this equals a monetary incentive for insurance companies to see you out the door as fast as possible.

      • The only information I could find on preventative medicine involved lifestyle changes like stopping smoking and obesity. What exactly does insurance pay for? Education?

        Irridisregardless, I was referring specifically to visits for small regular matters involving things like what you see in TV commercials. Prevention is an entirely different issue. In the end the consumer pays more through insurance premiums due to overhead. No risk is mitigated because there is no emergency. Covering this is patently stupid.

    • Those graphs don’t compare medicare versus private insurance, they cover private insurance versus nothing. They conclude that people without any nominal healthcare provision institution tend to have lower health outcomes in America. Well no kidding, I’d imagine homeless people and those too destitute to afford health insurance have lots of problems too.

      As far as group-pooling costs on routine procedures like medical checkups goes, it’s also generally a good idea. Consider: For most things Canadians present a health card and have the number taken down fill out one side of a one-page form, which gets shoved in a stack to be sent to the Ministry of Health. This contrasts sharply with the doctor hiring staff to make change in the waiting room; it’s more sanitary for one. Billing people costs time and money, and so does accepting their payment, don’t pretend that this isn’t so or forget that it comes straight out of the budget of the healthcare providers you want to have charge people. Stories of emergency rooms refusing to treat people without a credit card come of such foolishness.

      • Public insurance is also on those graphs. There are 3 bars quite clearly shown. Medicare is given as an example of public insurance.

        • But you can’t really compare Medicare and private insurance because most insurance companies force the elderly to take Medicare. (Happened to my grandparents) So you can’t compare the “Wealthy” supplemental insurance to Medicare. That also explains why there is less spent on this age group, because more of them are put in the public insurance group than those who can afford trainers, dietitians, and preventative health care. “Without all factors figured in, any study can be twisted any way to suit the bloodsuckers.” I can’t remember who said this but I will always remember it.

        • No wait, found the reason medicare looks so bad, and the university isn’t being dishonest either. Apologies about misaccusing you of the wrong thing:

          “Generally, adults age 55 to 65 do not qualify for public insurance coverage… There are exceptions for people with significant medical problems, however.
          In the Medicare program, for example, coverage is available to people younger than age 65 if the person is entitled to receive benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. …a person who is unable to work in their previous capacity and cannot adjust to other work because of a medical condition is considered disabled. The physical or mental disability also must be expected to last at least one year or result in death.
          The Medicaid program provides coverage for some individuals with low incomes and disabilities. The Medicaid program has both financial and functional eligibility requirements.”

          In short, the public health slice is strictly people who are poor and most of these also have disabilities. Disabled people by definition have serious health or ability problems. As well, relative wealth is a known indicator for health outcomes–the poorer the worse.

  11. One of the advantages of an universal insurance system is that you’ll have the young and healthy paying into it, and thus keep the premium cost down for the older, retired, and/or unhealthy. Spreading the costs of the risk around helps in that way.

    You can argue that you would be better off putting the money spent on the universal into savings to spend on healthcare later in life. But that is a gamble. You win and you have extra cash for retirement or the grandkids. Breakeven with it. Lose and have to spend other savings. Lose big, have something happen when you are still young without the savings built up, and left with a debt that prevents saving even for retirement.

  12. Being french, I’m not really concerned. Or am I? Our governments keep pushing to have us adopt a system similar to the american one.

    So, for now, we have an hybrid.
    Some treatments aren’t covered, or are partially covered, because they’re judged inneficient, costs too much compared to similar treatments, or just to save money.

    So, mostly, when you go to a doctor, or take some medecine, you’ll pay, and, later, you’ll be funded back by the state. Sometimes, you won’t pay, or pay less (but won’t be funded back ;))
    Poor people will get funded back 100%. The others, partially.
    Those that can afford it will have a private assurance covering the rest, or part of it. Those that can’t won’t.

    Problem is, they keep pushing for the securité sociale (social security) to pay back less and less things, and/or pay back less an less money, while saying this system has no future and that we need to turn to private assurance (despite the fact that some laws actually increase the securité sociale deficit, for exemple). The whole lot of failures and drama you americans had over the past few years? Enron and all? This is exactly the kind of model they keep trying to impose on us

    For exemple, I currently am paying 41€ for a doctor. I get paid back 15€ by the securité sociale, and about 6€ by my private assurance. This is because the “normal” price for a doctor is assumed to be 22€, so they pay back based on this, while doctors frequently ask you more money, since a previous government gave them this right.

    • This sounds confusingly complex. Why make poor people pay and then hand them money back later, isn’t it easier to just bill the organization that would pay them back directly? Sounds like you folks need some reform too I’d say, and by reform I mean elimination of the current regime of payment and repayment in favour of a universal prepayment system like ours where everything considered required medical care is covered 100% for everybody and the billing goes directly to the government organization responsible without making clinics handle billing.

      • Well, this is because some doctors prefer to be given money right away by the patient rather than by the social security 2 months later.
        Any tentative to change that would meet with resistance, and since they’ve always been allies of the powers-that-be, these won’t do a reform whose only result would be to ease things up.
        Moreso, it means that, sometimes, people won’t go to the doctor, because, right now, they can’t afford the costs. Which means economies, at least in the short term (the only kind of vision politicians are capable of).

        100% coverage would also mean stopping those same doctors from charging you more than the usual cost, or you’d have to pay anyway. Then again, they won’t do it.

        Mostly, it works, really (if you don’t care having your money come back months later), but, as time goes on, it’s being dismantled in order for us to turn to private insurance companies.

  13. Here in the UK we pay for healtcare through our taxes. Whilst there is waste in the system and people get “treatment” for lifestyle choices, to jump to an insurance based system would leave the most vunerable of society at risk and being a nominally christian country, this would be unthinkable. The benefits of the univerisal health care for all subjects (remember in the UK we are subjects of the Crown, but apparently citizens of europe as well) has now seen a massive pressure build up on services for the elderly, which is a “hot” subject.
    The BBC did a Panaroma program on just have much American insurance companies deny medical care see http://rawstory.com/news/2008/BBC_documentary_takes_on_Obamas_plans_0125.html

    If you don’t believe how pissy insurance companies can be, just try claiming aon Car (auto to our colonial friends) insurance. In the UK Car insurance is going up again by about 15%, with one of the stated reasons being becuase Cars have got safer, there more injury claims, rather the death claims and more people are claiming for whiplash.

    • Well that’s amusing.

      The U.S. is a christian country too, and let me assure that has little to do with it. I’d pick a moral country over a christian one any time.

      • ‘being nominally a christian country’

        Back away from the can of worms and replace the tin opener now…

        🙂

  14. I don’t go to the doctor. Ever. If I’m not bleeding so bad I can’t stop the flow or have a broken bone then I’m fine. If I’m too sick to work then I stay in bed until I get better. If I don’t get better then I will die. But at least I won’t have to pay for it. Half the time people go to the doctor they’re told the same thing anyway. “We have no idea what’s wrong with you, but here are some pain meds so you feel okay while you slowly die inside.” My kids on the other hand go to the doctor for shots, check ups, etc. That shit’s important when you’re little, but the same applies most of the time. If it ain’t bleeding or broken then you’re fine.

    • Been years since I’ve been too. I don’t like taking medicine, which I guess marks me as something of a medical Luddite, and probably a fool. Still, I don’t like it, and I avoid it when I can.

  15. Insurance, in theory, is a large group of people contributing to a fund which will cover any large, unexpected expenses incurred by contributing members. Most of the members will not have such expenses and the surplus from these members covers the shortfall from those who do (as well as a small administrative fee for the fund manager).

    This works reasonably well for home or auto insurance but not for medical insurance. Just because your house burned down or you got into an accident doesn’t mean it’s likely to happen again. If you were covered at the time the insurance company has to pay up anyway so they have no reason to drop you and lose your monthly premium. But with medical insurance they know that once one thing goes wrong a whole bunch of problems may follow. If your condition becomes chronic they will find any excuse to drop you since they will continue to lose money on you indefinitely.

    Some people will argue that only a fool would purchase medical insurance from a company that will drop you when you need them the most but most people are not lawyers. You may not realize you’ve purchased “non-insurance” until it’s too late. I propose passing a law that states insurance companies may not drop a client as long as he continues to pay his premiums.

    • That is certainly part of the overall plan, Vincent. The single payer option doesn’t actually touch the private insurance, so there need to be reforms there as well. The one you propose is one of the biggies, along with chucking “preexisting condition” as an excuse not to treat someone’s illness.

  16. Health Insurance is simply a necessary evil. I am lucky enough to have minimal health issues, most common are your everyday issues such as colds, common infections, irritations that basic cheap medication can quickly cure. My girl friend however is not in the same boat, she had/has lymes disease. A most horrible diseas at that. The Medication is very expensive, the treatment is long, it can be chronic, and the best part of all is that half of doctors don’t believe it is a long standing health issue. There is a ‘cure’ but said ‘cure’ is only noted as probable, best if used early in the infection.

    I would agree that if we put away money strictly for medical expenses there would not be a need to purchase health insurance. I don’t know about you but I sure can’t save hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, simply for a possible health crisis. As a starting position career I am lucky to hit double thousand digits in my bank account.

    Health insurance pays for costs that people cannot pay for. It is my belief that Health Insurance is not really the problem at all, more of middle man monster, the real issue is that medical care is simply too expensive. Why the hell do doctors need to make millions of dollars, when have you had a doctor actually screen and treat you? Usually the nurse is the one that does the labor, then the doctor does a 10 minute check, signs a paper for some pills, after making you wait Hours!

    If you break down the cost bill for a hospital visit everything is charged, from the opening of the door, to saying hi in the lobby, everything has a cost. The doctor may be nice and competent but the hospital bill is a nightmare.

    I do not believe that there will ever be a fair method to make everything ok in the world of medical costs. Private companies offer a client the best treatment with the best doctors at the time it is needed (usually), but all this is at a high cost. National Health Care offers treatment when available for common ailments, greater health cases put you on a long waiting list for specialists that are in fact private industry, but this system is low cost through taxes. Neither system is good, some instances one can be better.

    I believe that what health care costs is what it costs. I have faith in our Capitalist system that it will balance out eventually, and that a life is more important than money. The trick is to having supporting family and friends so when the shit does hit the fan its only money.

    Its too exepensive to NOT have health insurance… insurance as a whole.

  17. I have faith in our Capitalist system that it will balance out eventually, and that a life is more important than money
    IMO, just like communism, or anarchy, or whatever… It could work, in theory, but fails in practice, mostly due to human greed.

    Simple exemple: Banks are supposed to lend money to people who need it, and gain a little more when people pay back. Certainly not to gamble with people’s life insurances and savings (and, in fact, all they can gamble with) in order to make outrageous amounts of money at a great cost for both states and people. Yet they do, not because of capitalism as a theoretical system, but because of pure greed.

  18. I don’t think we will ever get anything done about this issue while special interest groups (health insurance companies) are donating millions of dollars to politicians re-election campaigns to keep up the fight. I propose we make them pay $2 toward the deficit for every $1 used to buy votes. It still wont fix the insurance issue but it will finally lower the deficit.

  19. I don’t understand the intricant details of the US health system, but it seems complicated… reading about it does not give me great hope for the system, though… no wonder Obama is trying to reform it!
    At this point i an glad to have the Danish system where our extreamely high taxes pay for all our needs – free medical aid, but once home again you get to buy your own medicine – but the more you spend on proscription medicine, the cheaper it gets! First 100 bucks are on your own wallet, from there on you get a discount, peaking out when you reach app. 250$, and then you get 80% discount!
    We do have a private hospital-section, where yoy can buy an insurance – if you don’t want to spend the time waiting for your turn at an cancertreatment or operation etc, you skip the public hospital and book at a private. Our problem is the trend that everybody gets insurance through their employer (if they can afford it and view themselves as needing to lure in the best workers ), and thus the unemployed, the elderly and the early retired are the only ones left in the public care system, making an A and a B-list! – and that sucks!

  20. Well… I don’t really know how to comment on your entry. I thought I’d simply tell you about my country’s medical system.

    Hmmm… well, let me preface this by saying that I don’t know everything about my country (I’m 19, just out of school), so I’m actually learning a lot about the “real” world. Yknow, stuff I haven’t had to deal with before. But I’m pretty certain everyone has an allotted “family doctor” who has your records and usually takes care of you all your life, though I’m not exactly certain how they’re assigned and you can probably change them.

    If you need an appointment, you see your family doctor, usually you can get to him/her within a few days if it’s not an emergency. By that I mean… well, i.e. your child has a sickness and needs meds and a doctor’s note for school (if you miss school for more than 3 days, you need a doctor’s note, or sometimes you need to be excused from P.E., which is mandatory, for a shorter or longer time). Urgent stuff. You can get a housecall from your family doctor, but then you have to pay about $5. If you have something that needs to be checked by a specialist, your doctor gives you some kinda… accompanying note and you need to make an appointment at a hospital. Adults need to pay for specialist appointments, however children don’t (uhh… I think :P). I’m fairly certain adults need to pay about $5 the first time and then it’s free? I mean, if the specialist needs you to come back within a short amount of time.

    Oh, and all children until the age of 19 are covered- including dental care, though more complicated dental procedures still cost a shitload of money (braces and such). I’m cursing myself to hell for not having simple dental stuff like filling some holes taken care of while I was still in school. I was also hospitalized for about 4 days to check out a potential (big) concern and had tons of different procedures done, this cost my family nothing, since I was under 19 and still in school. Oh, and: ER visits are free.

    Um… most everyone is covered, I think. Either by your workplace, or… well, there are tons of cases where you are covered, for example pregnant women have the same status as children concerning medical care. If you are unemployed and registered at the unemployement office, you’re covered. (the specialist fees and such still apply)

    Anyway. Now that I start to describe it, I find many many many holes in my knowledge 😛 This is a nice incentive to find out more about my rights as a citizen of my country, though. Hope this has been interesting to read 🙂