Wednesday, May 6, 2009

R.I.P. Health Care Reform! Thanks Congress.

It’s hard for me to imagine that a public health care plan, one Americans will overwhelmingly sign up for, has been successfully portrayed as dangerous and not profitable.

I’ve already resigned myself to the reality that health care reform is not going to happen for another decade or so, sad but true, so every post on the subject is strictly for entertainment purposes. I also need to vent. I’m hoping the gamble I take as an uninsured family pays off in the meantime. If we do get sick and go broke, I will try and drain from the public safety nets as much taxpayer money as I can, until Republicans cut those programs too.

Because politicians can now openly defend insurance company profits and denounce a public plan as a threat to corporate bottom lines, even Democrats, the battle is lost for the uninsured, underinsured and insured who will be priced out of the market in a few years. We aren’t hurting enough yet, I guess. Here’s Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) arguing for the insurance industry:
“It’s a big problem,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said. “It’s like putting an elephant in the room with some mice and saying, ‘Okay fellas, compete.’ There wouldn’t be any mice left after a while.”
Think Progress:
Alexander’s nonsensical analogy aside, Igor Volsky recently explained the actual impact of having a competing public plan, writing, “In an environment where private plans are forced to compete with a new efficient public program, inefficient, over-bloated insurers will go out of business, but private plans with good networks of providers or better services will continue attracting new enrollees.

If we’ve always been told by free marketers that private business can do a better job in a more efficient way, than why are they worried a government health care option would wipe them out? They have even argued that the actual administrated overhead of Medicare is about the same as the private sectors, and not the low 1 to 3 percent costs often mentioned in these debates. If that were true, then a public plan would not have the noticeable advantage, right?

Reader responses:

#1-I understood the credo of the Republicans to be that private enterprise can always provide better solutions than the government. Why are they unwilling to allow private enterprise to compete with the government in this arena? FedEx seems to do an okay job despite their being a United States Postal Service. There are plenty of charter bus, car, and taxi services despite the city providing public transportation. (Charter schools too).

#2-Let's see -- a public plan operating without profit might make things tough for private insurers who cherry-pick their customers, drop insureds as soon as they get sick, deny claims on technicalities in order to increase profits, spend more on
lobbying and advertising than they do on claims, and operate with a 40%overhead. And this is a bad thing?

One reader brought up the topic of “insurance insurance.” After reading the following story on such a plan, I would say we are pushing for change in the nick of time.

All Things Considered, December 3, 2008 · Just when you thought the nation's health insurance system couldn't get any more byzantine: Now you can buy insurance to protect yourself from losing your health insurance.

That's the … new product rolled out this week by insurance giant UnitedHealthcare. It's only for people who currently have coverage through their employers, but who fear they might lose it or may want to retire early and will need coverage to tide them over until they become eligible for Medicare.

You have to be healthy to enroll in a continuity plan … then you can select the plan of your choice and pay 20 percent of the premium each month to keep the plan on "inactive" status. When you leave or lose your job and the health insurance that goes with it, you can start your individual continuity plan even if you've developed medical problems in the interim.

Robert Laszewski, a health insurance industry consultant, says the product also assumes that efforts to overhaul the nation's health care system — including promises made by President-elect Barack Obama to ban the use of pre-existing condition exclusions in health insurance — will not come to pass. "It's a bet against Obama being successful," he says, "because if Obama is successful in the next few years, this product has no value."

1 comment:

  1. Because the damn thing (public plan) will be cheaper, pay providers less, and funding will be put off till the 22nd century while the private plans have to pay as they go. Not hard to figure, is it?