Health Insurance “Innovation”

The This American Life crew, once again proving that they can cover any topic they want better than anyone else in the media,* has a segment in this weekend’s episode on rescission of health insurance policies – insurers’ established practice of looking for ways to invalidate policies once it turns out that the insured actually needs significant medical care. (The segment is around the 30-minute mark; audio should be available on that page sometime on Monday.) The story describes a couple of particularly egregious cases, such as a woman who was denied breast cancer surgery because she had been treated for acne in the past, and a person whose policy was rescinded because his insurance agent had incorrectly entered his weight on the application form.

The legal basis for rescission is that when you sign an insurance application, you are warranting that the information on the application is true; if it turns out not to be true, the insurer can get out of your insurance contract. It’s particularly nasty in practice because the insurer does not immediately investigate your application to determine if it is accurate before selling you the policy (that would be impractically expensive); instead, the insurer waits – years, in many cases – until you actually need expensive health care, and then does the investigation, which at that point is worth it because of the payments the insurer could potentially avoid. Also, you can lose your coverage for innocent mistakes, which are easy to make since the application form asks you if you have ever seen a doctor for any one of a long list of medical conditions that you are certain not to recognize or understand. (In a Congressional hearing, the CEO of a health insurer admitted that he did not know what several of the conditions listed on his company’s application were.)

This reminded me of nothing so much as all of those “innovations” created by credit card companies, such as universal default, penalty rates, and double-cycle billing, which are really just ways to generate fees that you are unlikely to accurately estimate at the time you sign up for the card. It’s legal; it makes more money for the insurer (or credit card issuer); once one company does it, other companies have to, or they won’t be able to compete; it’s disclosed in such a way that customers don’t understand what they are getting into; it nails you when can least afford it; and it even has a plausible economic justification. Credit card issuers claim that their arsenal of hidden fees makes the cost of credit more closely reflect the riskiness of the borrower, and without the fees they would have to charge higher interest to everyone; health insurers claim that rescission is necessary to deter fraudulent applications, and presumably without it they would have to charge higher premiums to everyone.

Also, it’s definitely an innovation. I’m sure health insurers have always had fraud investigation units, which looked for red flags on new insurance applications to identify suspicious customers. But the idea that you should (a) target customers precisely because they get sick and need health care and (b) go after them for innocent mistakes is not an inherent part of the insurance business, and is something that some clever person came up with as a way to make more money – not a way to provide more coverage or better service to customers at lower cost.

And it’s terrible. Basically, anyone who had to fill out a medical underwriting application to get health insurance (this is basically the individual market, not the group market that people are in if they get insurance through their employers) is at risk of finding out that that insurance doesn’t actually exist precisely when he or she needs it most. The insurers claim that rescission is very rare; at the Congressional hearing, two of three industry representatives said it happens to less than 0.5% of policies per year. But that is a deeply misleading number. That means that if you are in the individual market for twenty years, you have a 10% chance of your policy being rescinded; 30 years, and it goes up to 14%. There is a big difference between health insurance and a 90% chance of having health insurance. And remember, insurers only try to rescind policies if you turn out to need them; so the percentage of people who lose their policies when they need them is even higher. (The denominator should exclude all those people who never need expensive medical care, at least not before 65 when they go onto the single-payer system.)

I know that rescission does not logically prove that some private health insurance system cannot work. For one thing, Congress could simply pass a law banning the practice except in cases of intentional misrepresentation (although the free marketers would complain about increasing government interference in the “free market”). But it is evidence that the private health insurance system we have does not work. Yes, it’s just the individual market, but it’s the individual market that’s growing, not the employer-based market. And the system we’ve got, like the credit card industry, is one where the name of the game is finding ways to make the product you sell worth less to the customer than the customer thinks it is worth. (The more common way this is done is by burying exclusions and limits in the fine print.)

This is the system that the politicians who are dug in against health care reform – and everyone knows who they are – are defending. I’d like to see them try to defend it openly, instead of hiding behind the tattered banner of fiscal responsibility.

* OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. I am really a huge fan, so I get carried away sometimes.

Update: Some days the Internet can be scary. I just peeked and noticed that The Huffington Post has sent over about 40,000 views to this post  in the last few hours. The HuffPost excerpt focused on the two horror stories I mentioned at the end of the first paragraph which, I want to be clear, I did nothing to help uncover; they were raised in a Congressional hearing and then picked up by This American Life.

Since my late-night musings on rescission are getting more attention than they deserve, I want to point you to other discussions of the topic that probably got less attention than they deserve. First, the transcripts of the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that is quoted by This American Life are available here. The same committee is having another hearing on the topic today. Second, at least two bloggers picked up the story when it happened back in June: Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein. For those who don’t want to read all the hearing transcripts, Drum linked to this Los Angeles Times story. Finally, one expert on the topic is Wendell Potter; his appearance with Bill Moyers is excerpted by Mark Thoma.

By James Kwak

358 responses to “Health Insurance “Innovation”

  1. Reminds us all of different things, I guess. Reminds me of a conversation I had with a casino executive. I asked about underage gaming, and how they policed such a massive area without constantly asking for IDs.

    He told me that you are free to play if you are underage, you just aren’t free to win.

    If you look twenty and play, they’ll take your money. If the pit boss or security team thinks you have won enough money to be worth their while, they’ll come check. It is a 100% house edge.

    The insurance companies’ behavior is a conditional probability question no more or less subtle than the Monte Hall problem. They only cut your insurance policy if you have a major health claim. So the real percentage to investigate is not the percentage of policies covered, it is the percentage of individual market major claim filers who face recission. If it is 0.5% of all policies per year, that is actually a very HIGH percentage of major claims where the insurance company essentially defaults.

    I would have thought – would have hoped – that this level of fraud as a core business practice would bring criminal charges. Not likely.

  2. TonyForesta

    Proof again that the entire insurance industry is peopled with the lowest form of reptilean life; coldblooded, ruthless, creepy, and bent entirely on selfpreservation and engorging the beast. Health insurance must be nationalized, or socialized. Insurance companies need to disappear, or more accurately be dismantled. Health insurance companies are evil in the purest sense, depriving the people who need them most in the most dire circumstance and raping everyone else with exhorbidant unnecessary and abusive fee’s and costs in the process, that falsely drive up the cost of healthcare in every arena for every individual. Eliminate these vulchers, leeches, and vampires, and provide universal insurance for every single American from the moment of birth to death. Subtract insurance costs from healthcare, – and America’s longterm health commitments are solved. Insurance companies are evil!!!

  3. I would point out that private insurance for health is irrational to beging with, especially as the poplulation ages. Consumers simply cannot evaluate medical care. And insurance is to protect you against unlikely, high cost incidents, e.g., home fire protection, not for chronic, on going consditions.
    How many families do you know that during the course of their lives that will not need very high cost medical care? (whether that have insurance or not)
    I am inclinded to be libertarian – but having private health care is like saying we should provide for the national defense with a private army.

  4. I think rescissions are not quite as rare as 0.5%, but I havent seen a lot of them either. And if the insurer pays you up once, can they still rescind your policy? If not then wouldn’t the 10% number over 20 years come down?

  5. Let’s see, how many things does the evidence of just this post reveal to be lies?:

    -“Innovation” as being anything other than being innovative at lies and cons. Nowadays whenever you hear the words “innovation” or “talent” or “entrepreneur” your default should be to assume that it’s criminals and criminal practices being described. If you go by this guilty-until-proven-innocent rule of thumb, which I’ve been practicing since last autumn, you’ll rarely go wrong.

    -That the buyer “information” vaunted in the EMH ivory tower exists anywhere other than in that ivory tower. On the contrary, this information is actively suppressed and obfuscated by the seller anywhere he can. He is very innovative at this (cf. item above).

    -That the “free market” is anything other than a free-fire zone for criminals, where money is the ammo and corrupt law and government are the explosives.

    -As the post says, “it’s legal”. Yes – so we know there is no “rule of law” in the exalted sense of classical liberal jurisprudence textbooks. “The law” has been fully weaponized. It is now a tool and a weapon of feudal interests. From any human point of view, it has no authority and no legitimacy.

    -The same goes for this government. The people can see no friends or even neutral arbiters here; only predators, only enemies. Corruption, capture, and anti-public interest ideology comprise the baseline. Since the pseudo-law has legalized it all, it takes extreme larceny and extreme stupidity for one’s acts to become nominally illegal. Yet only then does the media harrumph about corruption and crow about law enforcement. The normal pseudo-legalized baseline of organized crime is cravenly accepted by the media, corrupted and cowardly itself, as the acceptable and even laudable norm.

    -So the media also deserves no credence and no respect. (The example of the post is healthcare – has everyone else noticed how even the feckless media have struggled in vain to present this as a “debate” with two valid points of view? How, in trying to present the “con” side vs. e.g. a rigorous public plan, they’re always reduced to admitting that the ONLY downside is to a special interest? That it may harm private insurance parasites? But they do at least get their licks in when they describe right-wing Democrats as “centrists” and “moderates”, while public plan advocates are invariably called “liberals”. Never mind that poll after poll shows c. 70% public support for the public plan. You would think that in a democracy, as a rule, what 70% of the public wants is by definition the “center”. But not to our MSM.)

    So once again we see how every civic institution is broken beyond repair. It seems impossible that any reform can be accomplished, any problem solved, within this system.

  6. Walt French

    There is moral hazard aplenty here, but it would seem that a quick change by Congress could all but eliminate it.

    First, any rescissions would have to be made in the first 24 months of coverage, and subject to court oversight. No matter how quickly growing, an insurance company would have no basis for the current sloppy underwriting with an anti-policyholder bias.

    Second, the forfeited premiums would be disgorged; any amount in excess of the Rescission Court’s costs (not the insurance co’s legal costs) would be paid to the fund for universal coverage or some other third party. The individual would still have paid for his egregious interpretation of the truth in filling out the forms, all the incentive necessary to be truthful.

    I haven’t seen stats claiming that rescission is numerically a huge problem — so many people are covered through group plans where no claims are made — but the moral hazard attached to it seems outrageously high; we ought to take it down a notch and this would do it in a stroke.

  7. «go after them for innocent mistakes is not an inherent part of the insurance business,»

    That seems to me a very naive position — as far as “utmost good faith” is concerned, there are no “innocent mistakes”, both parties to the transaction have to take the utmost care in making their disclosures.

    «and is something that some clever person came up»

    A long, long time ago — insurers have been attempting to void policies on whatever pretext forever.

    «with as a way to make more money – not a way to provide more coverage or better service to customers at lower cost.»

    Well, the goal of businesses and bonused executives is to “make more money”, and that is actually what the law mandates, not to provide “more coverage” or “lower cost”.

    As to “more coverage” or “lower cost” that is the responsiblity of the purchaser, which must spend time and effort to get the best deal (or pay a third party to do it for her). There is nothing new under “buyer beware”.

    In Real America the rule is that suckers get screwed, and nobody cares about sore losers, as everybody think that they will be winners.

    In Real American nobody forces a customer to have health insurance or to borrow from a credit card; and if losers don’t read carefully the fine print and winners make more money fast as a result, that’s the American Dream.

    There is a large majority of small minded sheeple in Real America, and they think that the American Dream (find losers and screw them) is beautiful.

  8. If we’re going to maintain the fee-for-service structure for our health care, having providers be required to give costs up front would be an excellent place to start.

  9. cccc

  10. The most obvious rescission is not counted as a rescission at all–when medical insurance is employer-provided and an employee gets too sick to work (read in need of expensive care) (s)he loses the needed insurance.

    It is the perfect “under the radar” utilization minimizer.

  11. “I am inclinded to be libertarian – but having private health care is like saying we should provide for the national defense with a private army.”

    Awesome quote!

  12. Unfortunately, actions by insurers, providers, politicians and regulators is creating a crisis of fear and trust concerning our ability to have access to reliable and reasonable healthcare.

    This may be because the relationship of “insurance (as in the automobile model)” and “healthcare” might be fundamentally flawed. It might be that profit motives drive undesirable and uncaring results. And it might be that a population sold on the idea that any chance of healing is worth any price – regardless of scientific efficacy – is making the healthcare most people need difficult to afford.

    It’s a complicated issue, obviously. One that hasn’t been dealt with by either party. My fear is that decisions based on fear rather than vision will be something we regret long term.

  13. Why have we in this country decided that profit justifies collateral damage; seemingly suggesting that capitalism is a state of war? It doesn’t matter where we look. Healthcare, the military industrial complex, low wages, toxic environments and on and on.

    The deepest sickness in this country is of the mind. Those who profit from the death of others know it, justify it and fight for the right to continue to do so. It is not enough to keep a business running and employ people. It has emerged that those who profit most must have billions upon billions to satisfy themselves.

    It’s terrifying to know that human beings are capable of such depravity.

  14. I will sure watch to make sure that any “public options” do not include this scam-like ability to deny payments for treatment. How care you be PAYING for COVERAGE, only to find out later you are NOT COVERED?

  15. Hey TonyForesta: don’t malign reptiles.

  16. Playin Possum

    And it’ll never change until people start killing these insurance demons. I’d like to see people denied coverage strap on bombs and blow up insurance offices.

  17. CALVIN from Texas

    Watch out for long-term health-care providers, they are the worst when it comes to invalidating policy coverage based on what they consider to be pre-existing conditions. It doesn’t matter if medical records disprove their pre-judged opinion.

  18. There is so much energy and debate on the downside to single payer in the United States. How about some vision on the upside to transforming the healthcare system from market-based to national?

    Below is my post over at The Hearing.

    _____________

    I am a Canadian and I would like to share some facts about our own economy and our experience with universal health care. We have:

    – 100% coverage at 10% of GDP
    – the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada as having the best banking system in the world
    – not one Canadian bank has needed a government bailout
    – we are the only G7 country to pay down its debt
    – we posted 11 consecutive budget surpluses
    – this year we posted our first budget deficit (after 11 years of budget surpluses)
    – the forecast is a $50 billion deficit (population 33 million people)

    While a majority of Americans consider their health care system broken. Moreover the crisis in the financial system is estimated to cost US taxpayers $12.5 trillion over the next decade.

    In the province where I live (British Columbia) a family of three or more pays $108 a month in medical premiums. This covers every genuine major and minor illness, injury or need. For example: birth, premature birth, pediatric care, primary care, specialists, hospital care, vaccinations, cancer, stroke, dialysis, diabetes, organ transplant, HIV/Aids, broken limbs, spinal chord injury, catastrophic injuries, palliative care. You name it.

    In addition, many corporations (public and private) will top this up with benefits including:

    – paying the insurance premium
    – providing dental, vision and prescription benefits extended to dependents
    – life and injury insurance
    – paid sick days, extended maternity leave, bereavement days, extended sick leave

    In Metro Vancouver (where I live) Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Disney Pixar have located large operations. While rural communities in my province have suffered from the downturn in the forest sector.

    Universal health care supports Canadian business operations and makes them more profitable and competitive. Thus, one of the incentives to locate in Canada. For those Canadians who have lost their jobs during this recession they and their children have the social safety net of universal health care.

    I agree with experts, like Dr. Michael Rachlis, who contend the Canadian health care system (after 50 years) can be improved by restructuring, and without the need for “large infusions” of private or public capital.

    Rachlis’ option being community-based health care, with family doctors and specialists, working as a team out of one clinic. I believe this approach received “high marks” in Dr. Atul Gawande’s now-famous article in the New Yorker.

  19. The problem with the article is that it CHOOSES to IGNORE THE FACTS. And if anyone goes to CONGRESS.GOV (under the bill search) and pulls up and READS the exact text of HR 3200, they will find all these people in this article will be DENIED coverage anyway. It took me two days to read the full text of HR 3200 (which President Obama claims not to have read – but wants passed).

    And lets talk about the TRUE horror story within this piece of legislation:

    CANCER survivors and sufferers denied coverage (no coverage for pre-existing conditions)

    ELderly denied coverage – not only that but according to this bill they must attend MANDETORY END OF LIFE COUNSELLING

    Special needs NOT COVERED.

    PRIVATE INSURANCE (on page 16 – made illegal). Also it will be ILLEGAL to CHANGE to another PRIVATE Care insurance.

    PENALTIES for those who DO not have, are can NOT GET any medical insurance.

    IN short the elderly, cancer survivors, those with pre existing conditions, Special needs (in particular millions of people with Aspergers and Autism), etc…

    If you want a ‘better example'; I and my two daughters have Aspergers.

    According to the CHildren’s Health care reform act (which has already been made into law), the health care reform acts, and hr 3200 … it erroneously states “Autism is a untreatable illness” … and they congress/senate are using THAT as a excuse to deny both myself and my children insurance under the public ‘option’.

    But wait there’s more. (if HR3200 passes) If for any reason we should lose our private care insurance, it will be ILLEGAL for us to get new Private insurance.

    BUT WE will NOT be covered under HR 3200, which means we pay out of pocket (on the black market, as we will be DENIED TREATMENT since health care (according to the exact text of HR 3200) will be serverely rationed).

    However that will not stop the bill collectors. Even though we will be DENIED use of the hospitals and doctors, I and my children will still be fined and penalized because we will have NO COVERAGE.

    In short … even though WE under HR 3200 will be DENIED medical care (even if we pay out of pocket for it), I and my children will be paying $2,500 PER PERSON …. PER YEAR for MEDICAL COVERAGE ….that we are DEEMED UNWORTHY OF GETTING.

    And as for the people who sit back and state that the REPUBLICANS are sitting back and just whining:

    I invite you to go to CONGRESS.GOV and search for HR 1468 as introduced by Rep Burgess

    That is a ‘true’ health care reform bill, which UNLIKE HR 3200 doesn’t PLAY GOD with the lives of the infirm, the elderly, and those with ‘pre existing’ conditions.

  20. My husband used to work at a McDonald’s, and told me the following story about his time there:

    There was a high-ranking manager that had worked at the establishment for nearing on 20 years, when she had an accident that required knee surgery. Obviously, one cannot work at McDonald’s on crutches. As a result, she had to take several weeks off, which is understandable. The day she was set to return, another injury related to her rushing her recovery so she wouldn’t lose her job put her back on the operating table.

    Although many can relate to and understand the owner’s decision to let her go and fill her position, the offensive action was that he cancelled her insurance effective immediately, leaving her with the entire cost of the second surgery on her shoulders, instead of the insurance that she had been paying for for 20 years.

    In addition to that, because he cancelled on her before the month she had paid for was up, she should be covered…..however, that’s going to require her fighting with the insurance company.

    Though I’m sure she will be given an option for COBRA, the odds of her being able to afford it are slim to none, considering her wages at McDonald’s never would have covered such large payments and that now she’s unemployed, and now she has a pre-existing condition, and she will likely be uninsurable for the rest of her life.

    So. What’s her solution? Nothing that was done was illegal, but it has ruined her life, after she gave 20 years of that life to an employer that most people leave after a few months, to be thanked in such a way is repulsive.

  21. The answer to this situation is quite simple. If the insurance company accepts and pays any claim, regardless of how medically simple, then they have accepted the contract in total and can no longer “investigate” the validity of the supplied information. Move the cost to the front of the insurance contract, make it expensive for the insurance company and the problem is solved.

  22. It is good for the commenters to propose other plausible causes for our health care problems.

    However, just because something is plausible does not make it responsible for a significant cost. These things can and ought to be measured. We need to make sure we are focusing on the most significant factors driving up the costs.

    Of course for purposes other than just controlling the country’s health care costs, the unfair recission of a single policy is the most significant factor to the person whose life depends on the insurance.

  23. My wife’s pregnancy was called a menstrual disorder, which led to fighting for payment to her OB for a year. one could go on but nearly everyone goes through this crap.

  24. I agree that 0.5% is a low estimate. I wonder how many people, like myself more than once, were refused coverage after the procedure was done and ended up paying out of pocket, or the doctor or dentist ate half the cost because they told me it was covered. Luckily, these were under $5,000 but it still set me back for a couple years each. I can remember when health insurance meant no worries and superlative customer service. Reminds me of how the real estate industry has run amuck with in-sane escalation.

  25. “In Real America the rule is that suckers get screwed, and nobody cares about sore losers, as everybody think that they will be winners.”

    I wonder what things would be like now if Ralph Nader had been elected president years ago?

  26. Agreed. When you mentioned the media my mind reflexively jumped to the arrest of doctors and nurses and other healthcare advocates who were arrested for asking for a place at the healthcare reform table. Those single payer advocates were the representatives of the majority of Americans’ views, yet they were arrested for trying to make a case for the American people. There was virtually no coverage of the arrests in the mainstream media even though every single media outlet was present when they occurred.

    Here is a link to this weeks Moyers program which addresses the current state of healthcare reform:

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/index-flash.html

    It is revealing to hear Dr. Marcia Angell, a leading proponent of a single-payer system, say it would be better if there were no “reform” at all than to get a weakened “public option” that doesn’t really serve the people but further strengthens the insurance industry. There is so much at stake for us and in reality we have few real representatives in the process.

  27. Alison Victoria

    Health reform opponents keep saying that a government option will put a “bureaucrat between you and your doctor.” But it’s the insurance company who does that now – a bureaucrat who is sometimes given bonuses and increases based on the number of treatments he or she denies. Charles Edwards was a victim of the profit driven system when his insurance company denied appropriate and medically necessary services. He can’t tell his own story, so I am telling it for him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3so7EdKpCY

    Health care reform NOW!

  28. And what kind of army do we have?
    We are taxed, and about 1/2 of that money goes to the Pentagon. Their job is, apparently, to kill people.
    Maybe some taxpayers prefer to have their money spent on health instead of death.

  29. The 0.5% figure quote is misleading for more than the cited reason, because the insurance biz in one which most buyers, by design, will never need the what they’re buying.

    It’s the percentage of large claims rejected that indicates how abusive this practice is, not the percentage sold. The bulk of the remaining 99.5% won’t know if their policy is valid until they try and use it.

  30. What is the percentage cancelled per number reviewed?

  31. Late capitalism is a disgusting race to the bottom.

  32. What does H. R. 1468 have to do with the problem you mentioned in your post? Reading the first few parts of it, it seems like tort “reform” to protect the health care industry from the consequences of their mistakes.

    It might make health care cheaper, but your chance of survival may also decrease.

    Why can’t we have health care like many other countries where the price is significantly lower but the health outcomes are significantly better?

    Are we to assume that the U.S. system is just incapable of health care as good as other industrial countries? By system, I refer to both our economic system and our political system.

    I know in this day and age it is fashionable to be anti-intellectual, but our failure is nothing to be proud about.

  33. charles vignone

    Just think, when these rogue corporations and the
    monsters directing them are finally brought to justice
    our prison systems will have a very critical problem of overcrowding.
    We must build prison cells at every corporate headquarters so when the directors engage in fraud, they are tried, convicted and expunged of every dime they and their families own. They perform community services and repair roads, buildings, etc, while doing their time behind bars right next to where their offices used to be as a reminder to other corporate “officers”.

  34. Your comment is offensive.

  35. harry palmer

    I have an idea. Why don’t we poll Canadians and Europeans suffering under socialized/ universal heath care and see if they would rather have their style or our style health care. I would be curious to see the results.

  36. i recently filled out an application for individual insurance which asked me to list “every doctor” i had ever seen – (in the past 62 years!)

  37. ” I and my children will be paying $2,500 PER PERSON …. PER YEAR for MEDICAL COVERAGE”

    I WISH that’s all medical coverage cost me. Add half of that again and you’ve come pretty close.

    I would urge you to read the bill again. It seems unlikely that you either read it at all (as you claimed), or understood it properly (understandable, these bills are written in what is practically a foreign language) and seem to be relying on the untruths that the people on talk radio and Fox News have been pushing. I cite your insistence that it took you two days to read the bill, coupled with some gross misstatements of reality in basically every line of your post. If it took you two days to read it, and you still managed to get it that unbelievably wrong…..well, let’s say that it seems quite possible that your reading comprehension isn’t very good if you’re also that slow. I mean, it’s a lot of information, but we’re talking several hours of reading time, tops. Of course, that doesn’t include time spent weaving lies out of whole cloth…but I digress.

    I’m not even going to try to refute your points, because they are ALL wrong on one level or another.

    Here’s something to keep in mind for future information:
    If Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, or Ann Coulter says it, is most definately proveably untrue. They know they’re lying, they’re just banking on you not fact-checking them.

  38. If you work for the insurance company or the medical industry, and you or someone in your family had a major health emergency when the bill comes in the 6 digits you are one of the lucky ones…your bill is forgiven. No payment is necessary. I guess it is in who you know. I guess we on the other side are the honored ones that have to pay their bills for them.

  39. Alison Victoria

    I live in Europe and regardless of any minor complaints they may have, I’ve yet to meet even one person who would exchange their system for the American model. And I’ve lived here nearly 10 years. They consider ours–where you can die if you aren’t covered–shameful. So do I.

  40. EXCUSE ME? THe REPUBLICAN OPTION does not DENY ME and MY TWO CHILDREN coverage. THE REPUBLICAN OPTION, does not make OUR PRIVATE INSURANCE ILLEGAL, the REPUBLICAN OPTION does not PLAY GOD with MY and my CHILDREN’S LIFE by telling US we are UNWORTHY OF CARE under the PUBLIC OPTION.

    HR 3200 does ALL OF THIS. HR 3200 states that THOSE with SPECIAL NEEDS will NOT BE COVERED. HR 3200 CALLS for MANDETORY END OF LIFE COUNSELLING for the ELDERLY.

    HR 3200 PLAYS GOD will MILLIONS of AMERICAN’S LIVES (including the ones who state in this article that they NEED CARE – but are either UNAWARE or UNWILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE they’ll be DENIED care anyway) … by stating they will be DENIED coverage (while millions of ILLEGALS will GET THE CARE that HONEST hard WORKING AMERICANS will be DENIED)

    AGAINS ………… I INVITE YOU TO GO TO CONGRESS.GOV and GET THE FACTS rather than DRINKING the KOOLAID that’s being ‘offered’ by PALOSIE and RIED.

    BY the way if HR 3200 is the ANSWER, then WHY are the BLUE DOGS fighting to ‘reform it’?

  41. It’s not even possible for the consumer to pay extra to do the investigation up front…so the consumer CAN NEVER KNOW if what they are paying for is as advertised.

  42. Thanks Laura, for sharing the outrage. Who was given the right to profit from illness, pain, suffering and death of others? In most civilized countries (I would argue that the US is uncivilized), even doctors are paid little more than teachers. If thed y are in the health business for personal profit, they are there for the wrong reason.

    People in the US do not realize that in civilized countries, not only does rescision not exist, “pre-existing conditions” don’t exist, copays do not exist and no one ever suffers bankruptcy because of illness.

    I fault the country’s founders who left something out of the Declaration of Independence – “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” doesn’t include “Health”.

  43. Osama’s planes hit the wrong building…

  44. By the way …NICE TRY ……… with the PERSONAL ATTACK AGAINST ME!

    I didn’t get any of THESE FACTS for TALK SHOW HOSTS.

    I got it from the Children’s Health care reform acts (which erroneously states that AUTISM IS A UNTREATABLE illness …….and will NOT be covered by INSURANCE) as well as the ‘health care reform act’ (which has since been amended into HR 3200 – where it states that PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS WILL BE DENIED COVERAGE)S 819, HR 2413, and HR 3200.

    It took me TWO DAYS to read through the ENTIRE BILL.

    By the way …….. MY FACTS …… have been VERIFIED by the staff of Democrat and REPUBLICAN senators and CONGRESSMEN alike ……

    SOOOOOOOOOO ……………
    INSTEAD OF ENGAGING IN PERSONAL ATTACKS…. I ‘INVITE’ you to TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE and READ THE BILL AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And if you ‘have any doubts’ feel free to do what I did, and to CALL the senators and congressmen!

  45. It is very sad, that the health of the people in this country (which better than any other one, could have the best health insurance in the planet) has to be in the hands of unscrupulous people whose only agenda is to maximize profit.
    The part of government is to act as a referee, to make sure the market obey the rules of engagement, and protect people against the greeedy.
    Unfortunately, there are politicians who have the interest of the people as a low priority, and whose support is for sale to the highest bidder.
    It is incredible the amount of pressure the President is be subject to by the GOP, the lobby, and people like Kristol, and Linbaugh. “They are going for the kill”.
    Is the american people buying all this? Are they backing up the President they vouted for? He must be feeling very lonely!!
    I feel sorry for him. So many dreams, so many good intentions, and so little support. There is no place for a honest person in government.

  46. ButQuestioning

    But I think we are saying we want a PUBLIC option. And we have a PUBLIC military, funded by the taxpayers and drawing from our citizens, giving us a public army. And, Yes, I agree that the use of a private army would be ludicrious.

    A public option makes more sense than keeping the Private (insurance) program as our only option for sick care.

  47. “…national defense with a private army.” There are libertarians who advocate exactly this.

  48. Ralph Nader alone could not have conquered the conglomeration of corporations and government that now rules our lives. That beast has us all by the neck, and it may take Playin Possums tactics to liberate the majority of Americans from our servitude to that beast.

  49. Interesting post about underage gaming. Crafty.

    Why do I suspect we’ll have the same headlines under a govt insurance system. Errors and injustices will occur and the media will (rightly) highlight them.
    To assume these types of injustices will go away under another system is naive.

  50. nobody listens when you yell.

  51. Chris Salzmann

    “”PRIVATE INSURANCE (on page 16 – made illegal). Also it will be ILLEGAL to CHANGE to another PRIVATE Care insurance.””

    You are WRONG. I’ve posted a link below to the actual draft language of the bill. Page 16 is titled “Protecting the Choice to Keep Current Coverage”. This goes into effect after a 5 year grace period, but according to the language written here, if you change coverage to another PRIVATE or EMPLOYER insurance plan, this plan will have to offer basic minimum care based on federal guidelines. These guidelines include not allowing exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Just need to add that there are minimum guidelines that private insurance companies are required to follow when they sell you vehicle insurance. Currently this is not the case with health insurance policies. You’d think that human beings would be considered more valuable than cars but currently they are not.

    So before everyone gets all sorts of MISCONCEPTIONS regarding the the health care insurance REFORM bill, read it yourselves. Again, to remind you all that this is a DRAFT and CHANGES will most likely be made in its language.

    http://waysandmeans.house.gov/media/pdf/111/AAHCA09001xml.pdf

  52. I’m an American living in Canada since 2003 and I am so sick and tird of the Republicans lies about the health care system here – ITS AWESOME. I have also lived in New York City and Dallas and its WAY better here – and free. yes i pay more taxes but i also make more $$. plus i am free to be self-employed and not pay a dime more for insurance than when i worked for a company. Canada allows me to follow my dreams and not worry about healthcare. America crushed my dreams and made me a slave to the insurance company. STAND UP FOR FREEDOM AMERICA!! DESTROY THE DEATHCARE INDUSTRY!!

  53. Lo que ustedes tienen no es un sistema de sanidad que no funciona, es un sistema político que no sirve

  54. Sumaya Conners

    In order for a country to function, ones needs reliable and easy transportation system, reliable and compassionate health care i.e. single payer like all other civilized country and lastly we need a government by the people and FOR THE PEOPLE and not for those who have been elected to forget why they are in that position of the legislative branch.

    As a country, the USA has neither of the above, so we have a long way to go, unless the populace rise up and DEMAND that they be heard and be treated fairly and equitably i.e. get the same health care like our elected officials, have a fair banking system like those banks who got bailed out – think socialism for the rich, and are treating us with disdain in other words socialism is not only for the rich but for us too.

  55. (In a Congressional hearing, the CEO of a health insurer admitted that he did not know what several of the conditions listed on his company’s application were.)

    Hyperlink to transcript or video would be nice.

  56. But our military has been privatized, at least partially. According to Jeremy Scahill (journalist and author of the book on Blackwater), the number of privatized soldiers in Afghanistan is greater than the number of US military members. And these soldiers, many of whom come from Chile, El Salvador, and the Phillipines, earn much more than our men and women in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force.

  57. Kal Palnicki

    Any for profit enterprise never has the best interests of its income stream generators in mind. The investors are the ones whose needs and desires are of consequence.

    It makes no sense to keep alive a client who may have been paying regularly for 30 years unless the treatment is suffciently inexpensive and the actuaries calculate the income stream to have a fairly length life span in the future.

    If the client is not likely to survive long after an expensive therapy a modest delay may dispose of the problem by way of the graveyard.

    Anyone whose new house may need to be much smaller if you are to survive will insure that you don’t.

    No insurance company profits by keep its clients alive in the long run.

  58. Well, that’s kind of what Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, Cheney etc, were pushing. We now have Blackwater… and they make what, like 3 times as much as an enlisted soldier and were totally ungoverned by law. So I guess we can look forward to being about as healthy as Iraq.

  59. Nothing says Freedom like “Destroy industry” you don’t like.
    My body, my choice in health care.
    “Freedom is slavery” as an author once said.

  60. Is their death rate below 100%? That would be quite a system!
    Everyone gets care who walks into an ER. Might not be the best system, but let’s at least by honest in the discussion.

  61. Captain Frogbert

    We have the kind of army that costs a much as the combined militaries of the REST OF THE WORLD but can’t win a war against a bunch of ill-equipped insurgents. Note that this is not an indictment of our soldiers or even their commanders– it is in fact, all but impossible to win a war against such a group unless you are willing to commit genocide. The answer to modern conflicts does not lie on the battle field, but for the grown up little boys with penis issues that run our government that is a truth that cannot be thought.

    We spend hundreds of billions each year on weapons systems that will never be used to ensure “jobs” for thousands of Americans and, more to the point, hundreds of millionaire salaries and bonuses for military industrial complex corporate executives. Just look at the F22: a plane that has no function in today’s military, whose design was to fight an enemy that no longer exists. But it can’t be shut down because it would mean the loss of jobs (note that just because the current appropriation has been stopped, does not mean the weapons system has been shelved. It will still require billions every year in maintenance and training to keep the current fleet flying to no purpose). There are thousands of these weapons systems that, once initiated cannot EVER be stopped, costing us BILLIONS every year.

  62. More caps please.

  63. Debrarae….

    You nailed it!!!! PERFECT!

    I have to wonder how many people who are members here have seen these websites?

    http://www.discoverthewebsites.org

    WAM http://www.WAMAction.org = FIRE the MEDIA

    I wonder how many of these DRONES have been educated by the FACTS that GE execs. were the ONLY US. Company given ALL OF THE GREEN CONTARCTS by THIS ADMINISTRATION, THAT WILL GIVE GE ~ ALL OF THE POWER TO DESIGN AND BUILD THE SOFTWARE AND THE COMPUTERS FOR THE US GOVT. THAT WILL BE HANDLED BY THE GOVT. so that the DC. heads will be in charge of your PERSONAL HEALTH RECORDS – X-ing out the Dr. patient confidentiallity….TELLING YOUR DR. HOW TO TREAT YOU WHEN YOU ARE ILL. (better yet? What if YOU are a MENTAL PATIENT?) Hmmmmm… And many of you people were pissed off at GWB for ‘listening into phone calls’?? THIS PRESIDENT AND HIS PALS WANT TO DESIDE IF YOU LIVE OR DIE!!!! That’s pretty damed personal!

    Do these people HERE know that GE gave $60…million to Obama’s campaign? As did SEIU… the med. ins. partner to ACORN? Who also gave $60…million to Obama, and the DEMS / PROGRESSIVES…

    FOR THOSE OF YOU HERE WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT A “PROGRESSIVE IS” – GOOGLE THE PROGRESSIVE Belief system.

    DO THE PEOPLE ON THIS WEBSITE ALSO KNOW THAT GE WAS GIVEN HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS IN OUR TAX TARP BAIL OUT CASH? — WELL THEY DID!!! YOUR President gave it to them!

    Go to those two websites I posted. Research the sites for a few days. BETTER GET EDUCATED.

    YOU PEOPLE ARE GONNA BE PISSED WHEN YOU ALL LEARN THAT YOU WERE USED AS TOOLS BY YOUR ‘PRISTINE PRESIDENT” AND ALL OF HIS BACKERS.

  64. HAS ANYONE NOTICED THAT EVERY CONGRESSMAN AND SENATOR HAS GOVERNMENT PROVIDED AND PAID INSURANCE AND I HAVE NOT HEARD THAT ONE OF THEM REFUSED THE COVERAGE.

  65. So far as I can see, the nightmare scenario, which would basically leave the status quo in place (with maybe a Potemkin phony “public option”), but add a universal mandate, looks more and more likely.

  66. Does anyone know precisely where folks are getting these “end of life counseling” claims, and what the real story is? I’ve heard three Fox sources alerady claiming that the bill calls for letting the elderly die and just spends money to counsel them about it. It’s stupid and ridiculous, of course, but what’s the detail that they’re distorting to use as a pretext? Ditto the autism claim – does anyone know the details there? Thanks.

    One thing about all this that really amazes me is that the people denied coverage haven’t been able to – or tried to? – get back the money they paid. It seems insane that a company can collect tens of thousands of dollars for decades to provide a service, claim the contract is invalid when it’s time to provide this service, and STILL KEEP THE MONEY. There has to be a successful lawsuit there.

  67. Oh come on! No one has a choice which programs their tax dollars go to. People have always complained about that, there’s nothing you can actually do besides the same old write your congressperson and tell them to do better with the budget.

    -Pro gov. health care :)

  68. OOPS!! haha…

    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org — not websites…

    Where’s my coffee? So sorry all…

  69. Individual health insurance is a classic lemon market. Insurance buyers have more information about which people are “lemons” but sellers can’t tell, so the sellers have to price their policies as if everyone is. When only lemon policies are offered, the non-lemons leave the market, and the market fails.

  70. THIS IS GETTING GOOD… go-git-er Debrarae ~

  71. You’re much less likely to not be refused coverage if you’re under a group plan, like through an employer. It’s generally those who buy their own who are at higher risk.

  72. That casino story is too much. Those crafty SOBs! Did you really have that convo?

  73. Chris Salzmann

    And lets talk about the TRUE horror story within this piece of legislation:
    ______________________________________________________
    CANCER survivors and sufferers denied coverage (no coverage for pre-existing conditions)

    CHRIS SAYS: Please show me which page you are referring to. A link to a copy of the actual bill is located at the end of this post
    _____________________________________________________
    ELderly denied coverage – not only that but according to this bill they must attend MANDETORY END OF LIFE COUNSELLING

    CHRIS SAYS: Same thing. Give me the page number about the elderly being denied care in this bill. As far as “End of Life Counseling” is concerned, it is a prudent measure practiced the world over. Example: If you have 3 months to live and expensive medication and care will extend your life to 6 months or upto a year, isn’t it practical not to face just the fact that you will die, sooner than later? If you want a few extra months, feel free to do it on private insurance or your own dime. In fact, hospices use this type of counseling all the time.
    ______________________________________________________
    Special needs NOT COVERED.

    CHRIS SAYS: Again, page number please.
    _____________________________________________________
    PRIVATE INSURANCE (on page 16 – made illegal). Also it will be ILLEGAL to CHANGE to another PRIVATE Care insurance.

    CHRIS SAYS: I already commented on this at length in a previous posting here. But in short, you are mistake.
    ______________________________________________________
    PENALTIES for those who DO not have, are can NOT GET any medical insurance.

    CHRIS SAYS: You cannot drive any vehicle on the street without basic minimum coverage. You think that this is prudent for cars but not for human beings? So, when you get sick, can’t afford to pay for your care, who ends up footing your bill when you end up in the emergency room? WE ALL DO. Just a fact that I should point out, over 50% of all personal bankruptcies in this country are related to medical costs. Who ends up paying the costs for those bankruptcies? WE ALL DO.
    ______________________________________________________

  74. That is a GREAT post…I would much rather have my tax money spent on keeping people alive than killing them. The IRS should give options as to what your money is spent on.

  75. Wow,are you ever a piece of work,and that is not to be taken as a compliment

  76. charles vignone

    You are one of the “Lucky few” who can see the comparitive differences of a system with a nationalistic respect and service for it’s citizens
    as compared to our American healthcare nightmare. It is conducted as a profit vehicle for the elite few and their healthcare industry pirate corporations, which no respect and concern for our citizens. And service so pathetically lacking that 50MILLION American Citizens have no healthcare safety net as health industry ceos are paid enormous amounts of salary and bonus bloodmoney. God is watching

  77. sistersuperior

    This describes exactly what happened to me. I had insurance through my employer when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was unable to continue working but did continue to pay the $1500/month COBRA premiums in order to keep my insurance. Here’s the catch: COBRA is exhausted after 18 months. There is absolutely no way to obtain insurance when your pre-existing condition is cancer.

  78. Legislators, like federal employees, do not have “government insurance.” The have multiple private insurance plans they are allowed to choose from and are allowed to switch each year if they are not happy with the coverage.

  79. Chris Salzmann

    OOPS. Forgot the link again to the actual draft of the bill.

    http://waysandmeans.house.gov/media/pdf/111/AAHCA09001xml.pdf

  80. You paint a very bleak picture, but the worst part is there seems to be no way out. The big cheese is supposed to help us out here, but the help is severely lacking. In fact, the government, mindless of what comes out of their mouths, is still rooting for the insurance companies. Sharpen your pitchforks because it looks like we are going to need them.

  81. Oh goodie…just what I was hoping my future entailed!

  82. That’s the stuff! Ah…caps…Thank you!

  83. My insurer would not cover a visit to the doctor’s office because the office had my birth date incorrect. This was almost three years ago and I’m still fighting with them today over it. If it’s that easy to get out of a routine office visit due to an illness, imagine how much easier it is to avoid paying for real emergency care.

  84. Funny…

    When I look at videos of the supporters of MOVE-On.org – and people connected to this website?

    They do a lot for yelling. Like when CODE PINK protest our military kids at the military offices.

    Like when Janeane garafolo calls people ‘f-c-ers and racists’ on TV. she called people f-c-ers when FOX NEWS tried to get her to answer questions.

    EVEN AT THE TEA-PARTIES we don’t call anyone “f-c-ers”…

    Actually? Even while she may speak softly? Ms. Huffinfton is nasty. her close friends like George Soros who have HOMES inside America…. they HATE THIS NATION. Maybe they should buy a one way plane ticket out.

    THESE PEOPLE LIKE MS. HUFFINGTON and her supporters and friends hate the USA.

    If you are an American that should bother you.

  85. I have a better idea, dump all the insurance companies in the sea. Yes, it will severely contaminate the sea, but the land will be much cleaner.

  86. I love how opponents of the plan occasionally like to dredge up the one or two cases a year of Canadians having to cross the border for some sort of medical procedure (which, incidentally, is still covered by the government, as long as it’s not an experimental treatment), but they completely ignore the cases where someone’s insurance is taken away for no reason other than sheer greed.

    I’m Canadian, so I guess it’s no skin off my nose if you have an enormously expensive system that treats many people unfairly, but I still feel bad for everyone that gets shafted. I feel extremely good about the fact that the poor and unfortunate can get care in a hospital equal to my own, and that my tax dollars helped someone out.

    But hey, according to some in the states, I’m a socialist threat. :)

  87. Just a personal story: My husband has had a major medical policy for years. He was more worried about catastrophic illness than office visits etc. He never had to use it but when he turned 62, they tripled the premium. When we called the Insurance company to ask if their was an error, they said no, and would give no viable explanation. So the premium went from $800. a month to $2400. No way we could do it, and of course that is what they wanted us to do, drop it. Now at 62, even healthy try and find insurance. http://newsy1.wordpress.com

  88. Exactly! It’s a very obvious point that gets overlooked. Congressman Eric Massa (sp?), a Democrat from New York, refused his government-provided health program. He said it’s kind of lonely in the Congressional dining room at times.

  89. There sure are a lot of insurance company apologists here. Some people will defend the hangman that is about to hang him.

  90. That is a sad, disgusting story. My fiance’s mother is in a similar, but not so dire situation. She’s a middle-aged woman, with some health issues that force her and her husband to pay an outrageous amount for relatively awful insurance. To think that there is no recourse for a person who has cancer of all things in heartbreaking…

  91. I tried to get an individual policy for health insurance when I lost my job in December and the insurance company underwritters said since I had acne in the past and had recievced some medication that I had pre-existing conditions they would not insure me. This was nothing but an excuse because the real reson is because I was 45 years old.
    These insurance companies need to be challenged and regulated. They only want someone in thier 20’s that doesn’t go to the dr so they can make more money…

  92. charles vignone

    You said “like all other civilized countries”….
    America is No Longer Civilized….look at the headlines.
    Our country has been hijacked by the elite corporate criminals and A Foreign Government. Healthcare is not important for America which is now transformed into an attack dog in the middle east and a blinded cash cow for the ruling elite.
    We are just bodies for profit and war service….
    Kind of like Pre-revolution Paris circa 1789…..

  93. The only thing you proved to me is that you are a first class jerk. You must work for an insurance company. Do you have any compassion in you at all?

  94. I was in Amsterdam, watching as a bunch of Thai men played black jack. He looked up to me, beyond the players; perhaps recognizing me as an American (none of this matters, it’s just how it happened). He said, “You wanna see how it works?” I indicated yes, and he opened up the shuffling machine, saying, ” 5 decks. Intel inside. It never misses.” Guess he was trying to save me some money, but the point was not lost on me. Unless you’re dealing with a human, you really have NO chance of winning at a casino. Thanks for your analogy.

  95. To debrarae….While I don’t totally support HR 3200 as it now stands, what IS the republican plan? The public’s understanding is that there is none. In fact, last week the House republicans “Health Care Reform Solutions Group” cancelled its meeting and decided not to offer any alternative.

    Where can we find the Senate republican’s version of a health care reform plan?

  96. This is what it’s seeming like to me… if you already have employer-based insurance, you can only opt out if your premiums exceed a % of your gross pay… 11% in the House bill and 12.5% in the Senate HELP bill. That’s a pretty high hurdle to make if you’re making $60K and up (employers generally match 50% of the premium).

    Net effect: People with employer-based insurance will not have access to the “public” option, keeping them right where the insurance industry wants them.

    And for individual coverage, which I have, even tho there are are non-recission clauses in the bills, I understand that they will only be for new policies, not existing ones.

    Lovely ain’t it?

  97. I have a friend whose insurance was rescinded during treatment for ovarian cancer — and they wanted their money back for the chemo!!! You can hardly believe how much money that is. My chemo was over $10,000 per session.

    The companies that do this especially love to target cancer patients. The stress is so good for recovering from this terrible disease!

  98. someone should tell Congress

  99. Public option. If you have an Employee based healthcare plan. If you are healthy. If you are at an age or time in life where family coverage is not an issue. If you can afford your medication or dont need it. Exercise the Public Option.

    Drop you health care insurance. If you need healthcare stay in and eat the profits of the private health care companies. If you have an accident at home go to the Emergency room.

    My gut tells me the Insurance Companies will still pay there bonus’s to the top people. As profits go down the investors will start moving there money into better money making ventures. The Insurance Companies will go to the Goverment (we the people) for some form of bailout. Where have we seen this before?

    Goverment will then take over the Medical Insustry just like they took over the Banking industry. Maybe we will learn from our mistakes from the Banks and do it right.

    Public Option is stand up to the Healthcare Industry. If you can drop your coverage.

  100. How do you spell Blackwater?

  101. I lived 50% of my working life in Germany and 50% in the U.S, at various times over the last 2 decades.

    I take the German system any time over the u.S. system (although it has it’s own problems)

    * Mandatory insurance
    * Can’t be denied
    * provided by insurance companies that compete over basic, standardized level. So at the same level, slightly different prices
    * 50% paid by employers
    * Lifetime with the same insurance, can’t be canceled – NOTE: This means there is no real medicare here and the claim that this is a government system is just wrong. It also means that the risk pools for the insurance makes much more sense – from baby to old person
    * Government covers (IIRC) unemployed
    * Ability to buy additional insurance on free market
    * Ability to opt out if you make enough money (some limit that I forgot but pretty low). If you do, you can’t come back in (which seems fair)

    What you get is
    * Emergency medicine much better than in the U.S. (e.g., doctor comes to you with the ambulance if you have a heart attack)
    * Low dental and eye coverage on the downside
    * None of the “my kid has a cough I go to the emergency room” crap. You go to your doctor. On weekends, there is a doctor that comes to your home for non-emergency care (at least where I lived, this is different in some other parts)
    * No unreasonable wait for non-emergency stuff that I have seen (I want to point out that I consider a few weeks wait for a knee surgery normal)
    * a compromise on some things – e.g. dental and eye coverage, as well as quality of hospital food :-)

    This is paid for with a deduction in % of your income. That is of course the issue in the U.S.. The Germans are quite willing to give up more if you have more in order to help your fellow countrymen/women…)

    The biggest issue I can see is that you need government to define the basic level of care and how much doctors/hospitals charge. So a standard issue coronary bypass costs Euro x, etc. But we have something like that anyways in the U.S. with the coding system

    One the whole cost thing: In Germany, medical school is largely free if you can get in. In the U.S., it’s expensive. This means that in the U.S., the cost for the education of doctors is included in the health care cost (through the fees that doctors receive, which are higher to pay off the bills). In Germany, it’s not (doctors make less since tehy do not have to coverage school debt)

    Bottom line for me
    – Employer-based insurance with medicare after retirement creates the stupidest risk pools you can imagine
    – It is possible to have more for less

  102. Call recission what it is and the insurance companies what they are: RICO fraud and and racketeers.

  103. Call recission what it is and the insurance companies what they are: RICO fraud and racketeers.

  104. Absolutely right. My problem is that there was not outrage from Congress over the cost of war…but suddenly there is an outrage over the cost of keeping our society healthy. I am further outraged by the Congressmen and women that are physicians who are decrying public healthcare while supporting war. “First, do no harm…” remember?

  105. Dwain Wilder

    There is a very powerful basis for suing insurance companies which use after-the-fact rescission to annul contracts: lack of due diligence. In the worst case, the policyholder ought to be awarded all payments, with interest, since the inception of the policy that is now declared void. In the best case, rescission should be vacated on grounds that the insurance company forgoes the privilege in issuing a contract without due diligence for its interests.

    Why haven’t we heard of any such lawsuits?

  106. It’ true, Cheney and his Halliburton pals have set up American bases to look more like shopping malls, with all the rotten shit fast food you wanna eat. We don’t have enough soldiers now, and unless they bring back some sort of limited (or otherwise) draft we’re stuck with the “support” staff being staffed by civilians. I didn’t know/think we had foreign fighters. What a sorry state of affairs. I’m pushing in every way I can for a public option. Someone made an important analogy lately. You know who has a public health option? Soldiers. The V.A. Do the republicans blocking health care reform think the V.A. is socialist?!

  107. charles vignone

    You said “like all other civilized countries”..America is no longer civilized…
    Look at the headlines…..
    Our country has been hijacked by the elite corporate criminals and A Foreign Government.
    Healthcare is not important for America which is now transformed into a military attack dog in the middle east and a blinded cash cow for the ruling elite.
    We are just bodies existing for profit and war service….
    Kind of like Pre-revolution Paris Circa 1789……

  108. Alison Victoria

    No, 100% of people in every country die, silly. But they don’t die prematurely SIMPLY because they don’t have insurance. According to the Institute of Medicine, 18,000 people die in this country every year because they don’t get the care they need due to lack of insurance. I’d say that’s pretty shameful. And you can’t always get the care you need in the ER. For an emergency, yes, for chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. you can’t. They don’t give chemo in the ER.

  109. To Patty…We you this outraged when: Cheney/Bush gave no-bid contracts to Blackwater, Halliburton, et al, in Iraq? Or when these same companies charged for for services on top of their agreed-upon contracts, thereby having taxpayers pay even more? Or when an Inspector General’s report found that $9 billions was unaccounted for in Iraq spending, (about 2005), and yet the Bush administration in general, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, head of an ‘oversight’ committee, refused to look into the matter? Or perhaps when a CIA agent was outed??

    Or maybe when Bush ‘paid’ for the wars by borrowing from China, and not including the costs as part of the budgets. Now THERE’S fiscal conservatism for you.

    You and Debrarae say that ‘even teabaggers didn’t say…’ certain things like Garafolo did, yet what about the low-ball, ugly racist-like comments and posters at those parties? Tea baggers may not have used the ‘f’ word, (how nice of them!), yet they feel free to use other forms of derogatory language? And in front of their children? Very Christian of them, huh?

    You talk about drolls, you should read the garbage on reich wing sites. And yet non-Bushies were called unAmerican for even disagreeing with him?!?!

    You won’t accept ant responsibility for anything the last 8 years, and yet you’re so quick to condemn attempts by the new administration out of hand. You’re a bunch of hypocrites.

  110. Alison Victoria

    I agree. “Who is our neighbor” comes to mind.

  111. It’ true, Cheney and his Halliburton pals have set up American bases to look more like shopping malls, with all the rotten shite fast food you wanna eat. We don’t have enough soldiers now, and unless they bring back some sort of limited (or otherwise) draft we’re stuck with the “support” staff being staffed by civilians. I didn’t know/think we had foreign fighters. What a sorry state of affairs. I’m pushing in every way I can for a public option. Someone made an important analogy lately. You know who has a public health option? Soldiers. The V.A. Do the republicans blocking health care reform think the V.A. is socialist?!

  112. for robert zuckerman…That’s nuts to list every doctor! I’d love to have heard the ‘rationale’ for that if/when you complained about it.

  113. The House edge is well known. Casinos are entertainment not investment houses.
    Hopefully this isn’t news to people.

  114. to Sarah O, anne cort, Captain and others, great posts!!

    The same people who want to deny and derail health care reform are the same people who call themselves ‘Christian.’ What a bunch of hypocrites!

    DO they think Jesus would act like they are, and want to deny health care access to people??!?

  115. Honest wingnut here: that’s messed up.

    And btw – your post’s brevity is effective (note to Snr. freakin’ 2 pages of bullet points!)

  116. Tarnas,
    The senators and congress people (unlike regular folk) get to particpate in the Fed plan for life — even after they no longer are serving.

  117. Here’s an idea – don’t pay income taxes until we get single payer healthcare. We’re required to pay for a government that works for the people, not the corporations. Let them pay for it.

  118. Americans wake up –you are being lied to…Here’s a story: two babies one in England one in US.

    England – one month before due date, mother admitted to hospital for three weeks of preventative care. Baby born healthy, after a week of recovery, a nurse visited home everyday for ten days to check on baby and mother administer shots etc. Cost 0.00 care excellent.

    US – baby number two – mother went to birth center day of birth, sent to mall to walk around (after waters broke!), back to birth center baby born at 5:00 p.m., mother sent home with baby at 8:00 p.m. same day (that’s three hours people), next day mother took baby (less than 24 hrs old) to pediatricians office because baby had not been checked by a doctor because none were available on day of birth. Sat in waiting room with sick people near newborn. Baby dehydrated and mother fainted. Oh and why a birth center instead of the hospital? Research showed it provided better care than the hospital! Cost $5,000+ expensive insurance payments, care: poor and dangerous.

    My two children – priceless, single payer? priceless! Admittedly this is anecdotal information, but do some real research and stop listening to the MSM who have a vested interest in your ignorance. Billions of dollars ride on this — do you really think your voice is going to be heard? Get busy, its time! Get your heads out of the sand. People are dying, corporations are reaping the rewards.

    By the way, no one has yet to say it. When I lived in England, I paid to the Nat Insurance. The amt was so low it did not register in my mind, but I did not mind paying it because I liked the fact that if I didn’t need it because I was healthy, the money went to someone who did. I would rather pay to a system like that than to a corporation who uses the dollars to keep care away from people. Wouldn’t you?

  119. This is what happens when health care is left in the hands of business school graduates.

  120. My parents and sister moved to Canada 15 years ago and became Landed Immigrants.

    My sister who has diabetics loves her Canadian Insurance. She pays $70 per month for her government coverage.

    My retired parents only pay $120 for their health insurance. My dad is on dialysis and goes to the hospital 3 times a week for kidney failure.

    My family would never trade their Canadian coverage back for American Coverage. – And my dad was a California state employee. The cost to insure my diabetic sister in the US would have been more then her modest dental assistant salary.

    Now every person and family in Canada pays in to the plan. Canada has a large pool of healthy young people with no health problems paying into it which of sets the cost of the older population or people like my sister.

    If healthy young people paid into a public plan such as medicare, it would balance off the costs of the sick, disabled and elderly on medicare right now. to

    My family loves the security they have under the Canadian system and are satisfied with their care. They know they will never be denied coverage.

  121. Anyone (I’m looking @ you debrarae & your defenders) who more or less quotes Michelle Bachmann (R-Space Case) “PRIVATE INSURANCE (on page 16 – made illegal)” is announcing that he or she employs a brand of thinking that disdains facts and reveres the nonsensical.
    If you want folks who don’t belong in straight jackets to thoughtfully consider your opinion(s), then don’t rely on the raving of a loon to make your point.

  122. Comrade Rutherford

    “can’t win a war against a bunch of ill-equipped insurgents”

    Do you really think the wars against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are ever meant to be ‘won’?

    No, these ‘wars’ will never end, they are the first ‘wars’ of the new strategy, perpetual and never-ending warfare. Cheney said so back in 2002 (or there-about).

    US troops will never be withdrawn from Iraq, more US troops will be sent into Afghanistan, forever, with no end in sight.

    American citizens will constantly be lied to with that ‘patriotism’ crap, and that ‘Freedom Isn’t Free’ BS, and kept impoverished so that the only option for an 18 year old when they graduate is to become a Bullet-catcher for the American mercenary military.

    USA could cut it’s military spending by 90% and have no problems defending the nation, what they couldn’t do is defend the American international empire.

    The Republican Party (the Party Of Life) has promised perpetual death and misery for non-wealthy Americans, and the GOP operatives that call themselves ‘Democrats’ (like Obama, Pelosi and Reid) will never, ever challenge it.

  123. That’s a CYA necessity thanks to J. Edwards type lawyers. Collecting all that data in anticipation of being sued by an ambulance chaser does add to the headache and cost of healthcare. But CIC has been clear that lawyer fees are untouchable.

  124. And I have first hand knowledge that we pay OUT THE NOSE for these “privatized soldiers.” They make about 6 times what their military counterparts earn. And their offices are adorned with lots of pictures of these “private soldiers” pallin’ around with Donald Rumsfeld. It’s sickening.

  125. Keep fighting. I won my 7-year battle over a similar issue last year–over a stupid $600 that temporarily wrecked my credit and that I wouldn’t pay on principle.

  126. “I havent (sic) seen a lot of them either”? What does this mean? Do you make it a habit of asking people on the street if their health care provider has dumped them or denied them care for a silly clerical error or due to actually being sick?

    That’s like saying you don’t see a lot of people with high cholesterol. How on earth would you know?

  127. bill provenzano

    Wow…talk about obfuscation. There are no doubt egregious examples of “malpractice” on the part of insurance companies. Personally, I’ve never had a problem at all, nor any one that I know. The problems that I know about have happened in the context of socialized medicine when my sister and her husband were in England and also in Canada. In both systems they had significant treatment problems.

    It’s easy to throw up a handful of bad experiences. It’s a complete stretch and intellectually dishonest to extrapolate those experiences and observations to the whole system.

    I think that trying to pass the reform that is currently on the table is the equivalent of amputating a leg because you tore a few ligaments in your knee.

    I think think the insurance companies should be regulated similar to energy companies wherein the margin is capped. They could also regulate the fee structure and require insurance companies to pay for alternative medicines. For instance, I was talking to a guy in the waiting room of a hospital who could barely walk due to a back problem. His insurance would pay the 20K for the back surgery which rarely works 100% but would not pay 5K for spinal decompression. Well, he paid for the decompression out of his own pocket and has absolutely no problems where as those he knows who had the back surgery can still barely walk.

    The current reform bill on the table is not required to fix that problem. Rectifying that problem would have freed up 15K for other people.

  128. Interesting.
    I have noticed, by spending time in Canada, that the public system frees people to be innovative, creative and allows one to easily start their own business because they are not held back by the confines of staying at a job they are not content with due to health benefits.

    How many people do you know that are not following their dreams, because they are being responsible and staying at their job because of Health Insurance benefits? I know of many.

    I see our currant Health Care System as a Brain Drain for the American People. Many feel stuck working for large corporations for the security of the benefits.

    My own husband would love to start his own business but can’t because he can’t get private insurance, for he had cancer a few years ago. He is the bread winner for his wife and 3 young children.

    Many other people find a cost of $1000 to $1800 a month for private health insurance to be a barrier to quit their job, take the risk and work for a creative small company or start their own business.

    To compete in a global economy we need innovation and a spurring on of new ideas. An affordable public option could open up a wealth of innovation and opportunity, which in the long run could create jobs and allow Americans to compete in the future global market place.

  129. KC Carmichael

    I vaguely remember a Supreme Court case won by Marvin Lewis in the 1960’s where insurance companies acting in bad faith on insurance claims were opened to punitive damages as well as payment of original claims and damages. Would not a recision based on innocent mistakes (wrong birthday entry, etc.) be an act of bad faith? Has this precedent been modified or overturned?

  130. Dorf!
    I take the German system

    yes I am German and I am quite content with the system but it is now at least 30 years they are fiddeling with it trying to contain cost and it doesn’t look like they’ll keep it much longer as comfortable as it is or maybe even up and running beyond providing for really necessary stuff at all.

    There are more and more breaches of the idea of one medical care for all. Of course where life-threatening illnesses are concerned there really is one system for all but at the fringes it is getting more and more useful to have some spare money.

    I do not say that to malign the system or the regulators it just is that any system that exists over a long time and ours presumable was the first one worldwide originally invented to appease the Socialists. … and had to be fiddled with to adjust over and over again tends to become a) overcomplicated and b) unsustainable … and to date no government and/or parliament everywhere has managed with any health insurance system to adjust it as far and as thoroughly as it should happen to stay in tune with the demographics and the technological advances. There is always too much uproar by patients and providers alike and the party in opposition promises to deliver the goodies if only they get elected next time

  131. I was never really engaged in the idea of health care reform until I worked in Customer Service for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama back in the 90’s. I received a call from a contract holder who was being threatened by a provider of service in PA for non payment of a claim filed due to an accident he wife suffered while on vacation. The claim was being held up for medical review to determine whether the diagnosis was for a pre-existing condition. After 18 months of fighting to get the claim paid the insured party was at his wit’s end. Once I investigate it was obvious that the condition wasn’t pre-existing as it had been mis-coded as a Prostate condition. The patient was female. It took me 6 months to convince medical review that this woman did not have a prostate gland.

  132. Congress.gov …….. number bill search ….. HR 1468. WHile it is more TORT reform than anything else, at least it does not play GOD in choosing who is and is not ‘worthy of LIFE and treatment’.

  133. Wow! We should take heed. To those who are against health care reform, this could happen to you. — Unless you are a member of congress.( They are lucky, and covered )

  134. “There is absolutely no way to obtain insurance when your pre-existing condition is cancer.”

    I’m sure that’s true. The evil reality is that without some public option, this is what you’re up against:

    …the goal of businesses and bonused executives is to “make more money”, and that is actually what the law mandates, not to provide “more coverage” or “lower cost”.

    So in other words, it would be ILLEGAL for an insurance company to give you insurance when your pre-existing condition is cancer, because the company would be ignoring their gov’t mandated role of maximizing their investors’ rate of return.

    That is EVIL! SO EVIL! People die every day in the US so that other people’s “right” to make money is more important than their right to live.

    PS Don’t get me started on GOP/Right to Life people who don’t want the gov’t to pay anything for anyone. You have a right to life when you’re a fetus because you’re cute. When your an adult with no insurance and cancer, it’s because you’re lazy and worthless and you deserv it, according to these NIMBP types.

  135. Wonder if anybody tried to rescise Ted Kennedy’s coverage when he was diagnosed with brain cancer? I’m hoping Teddy lasts long enough to embarrass both the Senate and House into passing health insurance reform. I think it’s all he wants at this point, and would be a fitting way for him to end a great legislative career.
    We have to somehow get the protection of the lives and health of the American people out of the hands of bean counters and into the hands of health professionals. Business needs to exist to provide goods and services for fair compensation, not make money off of people’s corpses and give nothing in return. Thieves!

  136. Excuse me. WHat does HALLIBURTON and IRAQ have to do with HEALTH CARE REFORM?

    Just WHO is drinking the KOOLAID here??

    YOU can not blame a facist PIECE of lEGLISLATION that SAYS in BLACK AND WHITE on CONGRESS.GOV (HR 3200) THOSE with SPECIAL NEEDS WILL NOT BE COVERED on GEORGE BUSH.

    You can not BLAME the ATAA ((HR 2413 and S 819)also another piece of facist Legislation) that calls upon every man, woman and child with Aspergers and Autism to sign a registry and SUBMIT to being under constant SURVIELENCE as though they were common criminals on GEORGE BUSH.

    By the way it was also NOT BUSH who said ………that OLD PEOPLE should recieve mandetory END OF LIFE COUNSELLING.

    That was all Palosi, Reid, Kennedy, Dodd, and Obama.

    The entire text of HR 3200, S819 and HR 2413 is in BLACK and WHITE on CONGRESS.GOV ……Under the BILL NUMBER SEARCH.

    So instead of engaging in PERSONAL ATTACKS, why don’t you JOIN ME on CONGRESS.GOV ……pull up HR 3200, HR 2413 & S 819 for YOURSELF and get the facts.

    By the way ……..it only took me two hours to read HR 2413 and S 819.

    IT took me TWO DAYS ……..to read through HR 3200.

  137. I have a personal story. My husband was diagnoised with hep C at 52. the insurance company which costs us 500 a month denied it for a year. Knowing full well that he would probably die before the desease would kill him. He would have to change his life style but not much. They ended up paying for it But the fight and the constant battle with them to get it payed for was stupid. And as for my costs. we make 40000 a year and I pay 6000 a year for medical. It was 9200 when the children were home. This is much more then 11% and I would like it to be cheaper. I have never used the system to make my life cheaper and maybe I could have but never looked into it. I was raised that you pay your own way and if you need more money then get a second job. which I do when necessary. But when when we gor behind in copays to the drug company, they refused to send the last months of medicine. I saw the writing on the wall. Hw would be declined to get the treatment again because its a pre-existing condition even tho he would have finished it if they would have sent him the medicine. We borrowed the 120 dollars to pay the bill. the shots are 1200 apiece. and for 120 they were not sending the medicine 11 months into the treatment. assinine. It would have saved my insurance 5000 dollars that month. they do work together. There is so much info out there about both sides. If you stay away from fox ( who distorts) and morning joe (seewho funds the lewin group) you will find that the single-payer option is a very good way to go. +9I f you do enough research you can see thru the lies and distortions the republicans are saying. Its very enlighning. but you do have to research not just listen to the news.

  138. Sarah,
    Unfortunately your IRS “income” taxes does not pay for ANYTHING other than national debt. Not for schools, medicaid, or even the machines of war.
    Do some research, it will shock you.

  139. I would like t comment as an insured American in an employer group plan. It is not just the private sector that gets abused by the health care industry machine.

    My employer and I share the cost of my United Healthcare insurance. It totals $8580 a year. My right leg was amputated below the knee last October. A result of 35 years if diabetes. My left leg was amputated two and a half years before. My out of pocket medical expenses in 2008 were $12,000. This is with coverage. In 2008 I earned $21,000 due to the fact I worked about six months due to health issues. If you do the math I worked to cover insurance and medical expenses. United Healthcare has refused to pay for an amubulance to transport me to rehab. They will not buy me a wheel chair and I have a $6,000 bill for the rehab. United Healthcare paid $24 as their portion of the rehab. After being told by the hospital staff that this reahab center was covered by my insurance. United told them this.

    I have hired an attorney to try and rectify these injustices. My income does not allow for any of these expenses but United Healthcare might respond to an attorney’s letterhead. They have no respect for me as a policyholder.

    United Healthcare is evil and they are leaders in an insidious industry. A public option must happen and the insurance industry needs regulation. Just like the banking industry, they cannot be trusted to act responsibly. Their greed rules every decision.

    My tax dollars should be spent fighting this war against the healthcare industry and forget the ego driven wars we create because we think we know what is best for the rest of the World.

    Rick Young

  140. I have and read an article about someone suing Blue Cross for dropping coverage once they got cancer. After a few years of fighting Blue Cross paid up.

    But remember, many sick people aren’t able to fight for themselves: they are too sick and weak.

    After my husband had Cancer he was very weak for over a year and would not have been physically able to take on an insurance company.

    If both spouses are elderly and have heath problems then they are just focused on making it through the day.

    Even though we had insurance, I had a mountain of paperwork, hundreds of mis-billings, wrong insurance codes, pending approval stuff, etc. If my husband did not have me to advocate for him, we would have gone bankrupt due to bureaucratic paperwork, mis-billings, and unfounded collection agency threats. I lost hundreds of hours of work and lost time caring for my husband too.

    What real service did my insurance company provide besides providing approval and codes for my husband to be treated? 1000s of hours and dollars are wasted between doctors office employees, my time, insurance employees, local HMO group — all for a costly inefficient Approval process! — What a waste I say.

  141. It’s shameful mans inhumanity to man.
    Those who deny others, especially [the sick] their right to be cared for because of selfishness and greed will have to answer one day to the Supreme Being.
    I would like to know where their “power” went when they find themselves alone in the Court of Justice.
    Oh mortal man, Oh mortal man…

  142. We MUST reform healthcare, period. End of story.

  143. Another Canadian

    The insurance ooze the US has created, perpetuated, and continue to permit to exist, is a primordial swamp of decay, injustice, and avarice.

    You get the government you buy. The fact that so many Democrats are busy looking over their shoulders at the Republican ‘spin machine’ and the cohorts of the ignorant bible-belt, gun-toting fools that constitute the ‘base’ of the Republicans is just sickening to watch.

    Time for the Dems to grow some cojones and change the system.

  144. Does anyone else get the sense that we are not going to get a robust public plan?

    But perhaps what we will get is some convoluted bullshit that within a few years will look like the Taxcode’s version of healthcare? I voted for Obama and this was a major issue for me. I really get the sense that the lobbyists are going to win this battle – and that in our life time we will not see this opportunity again.

    Congress has long ago sold out the American Public to the highest bidder.

  145. Patty-

    I love it when someone equates being American (loving the USA) with agreeing with them. How f’n patriotic of you. You would’ve thrived under the old USSR, or the current North Korean government. And I suppose if I don’t go to your church, I’m headed for Hell.

    By the way, I’m glad AH is sometimes nasty. You and whoever puts you up to post this crap richly deserve it, and more. The way you’re all squealing must mean it’s hitting home. It’s about time you got yours the way you’ve dished it out. Pendulum’s done swung, darling.

    “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
    -Samuel Johnson

  146. How about making Congressional members pay for their own health insurance and that of their families?

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/help-make-congress-work-for-our-health

  147. I was between jobs and wanted to buy health insurance for my family. My wife had headaches three years before. She was examined and nothing came of it. She was denied coverage becasue of these “headaches.” What’s worse is that once you are turned down by one provider, they all turn you down. The first question they ask on the application form is if you were previously turned down by someone and why. Luckily for us, we were able, later, to get insurance through a professional organization group plan.

  148. you are coo coo for cocoa puffs. plus, you kan’t spel.

  149. Waited long enough

    The time is now, reform health care!

  150. If you want socialism move to a socialist country. We are not socialists in America. Yes, there are problems with the system, but we have by far the best health care in the world. And it’s because of capitalism, profits, and “greed”. If you take all that away, you’re left with nobody willing to innovate or take a risk. If you take all the benefits away from the people that innovate and produce, they will stop producing. It will only get worse. Free, 1st class care for everyone sounds great…it’s just that it never has and never will work. Go study history and stop trying to live in a fantasy world!

  151. Ann Bradford

    Normal life, owned home… good job etc. A woman ran a red light and totalled my car … led to chronic pain… endocrine problems and head injury. No coordination of health care. Managed my own recovery. Second accident – hit and run. Kicked off of medical ins. after paying for 59 years. One quarter million dollar auto ins. policy basically stolen by attorneys working together (my attorney and ins. attorney.) I am still not able to work. I’m a Yale grad and very well informed. Health care in the form of a profit driven corporate provider is not an option. They will not see another penny from me.

  152. Concerned Citizen

    This ALL boils down to ONE thing… Campaign finance reform. Our politicians are BOUGHT and PAID FOR… simple as that. They want to get re-elected, so the lobbyists “contribute” to their re-election campaigns. It really IS that simple. NO ONE in their RIGHT MIND would refuse to cover the health of their citizenry… UNLESS they were being paid to do so. The greed is mindboggling.

    Eliminate the campaign contributions and you’ll see the politicians actually voting for what is right. But, until that changes, the US Political system will continue to be a JOKE to the world.

  153. If Nader had been elected it wouldn’t be any different. The president cannot write law, he can yell and scream and attempt to get congress to do somethin but thepresident cannot cause a new program without the congress to write it. With the current setup Nader couldn’t have done any more than is being done. You think he could havegot the GOP and the blue dog democrats to go along with it, not likely.

  154. I really don’t think this is a highest bidder issue. With the bipartisan resistance and listening to people read the bill on C-SPAN. The plan is overkill and will end up costing Americans more than the 12% some are already paying.

    I suggest regulation, not complete transformation.

    Does anyone actually know how many of the 47M people who don’t have insurance actually want it or think they need it. I heard that the figure is somewhat misleading. Has anyone else heard something similar. I heard the real number is significantly less, like…under 20 million.

  155. I really don’t think this is a highest bidder issue. With the bipartisan resistance and listening to people read the bill on C-SPAN. The plan is overkill and will end up costing Americans more than the 12% some are already paying.

    I suggest regulation, not complete transformation.

    Does anyone actually know how many of the 47M people who don’t have insurance actually want it or think they need it. I heard that the figure is somewhat misleading. Has anyone else heard something similar. I heard the real number is significantly less, like…under 20 million.

  156. When you wrote that “the idea that you should (a) target customers precisely because they get sick and need health care and (b) go after them for innocent mistakes is not an inherent part of the insurance business, and is something that some clever person came up with as a way to make more money – not a way to provide more coverage or better service to customers at lower cost.”, may I assume either that you were kidding or were you trying to trim you argument in an effort to sound even-handed? The practice you decry is not only inherent in medical claims management, it’s as common as mud!

    Of course, there is fraud on the part of insureds in submitting applications for coverage, and lots of it.

    The essence of the problem is found in the concept of “insuring” against illness. To underwrite life insurance is easy. To underwrite health insurance is inherently difficult, if not impossible, given the dynamic state of modern medicine and the natural greed of all of the providers.

    Until we de-politicize the coverage question (a virtual impossibility?) while simultaneously giving serious regard to Pete Peterson, Judge Posner and the others who worry about paying for medical care, we will never come close to dealing with the problem.

    In my opinion, President Obama is probably correct that full coverage for all, without regard to pre-existing conditions, must be done first, followed by cost containment since once everyone is covered, there will be no choice but to rein in the excesses or face swift and certain bankruptcy.

  157. Have you taken a look at the private army? There is more of a private army in Iraq than there is regular. They get paid (or the company that supplies the labor) gets paid HUGE sums of money while the regular grunts who used to do those jobs get put on the firing line.
    Time to kick all private companies out of the army but I digress.
    Public healthcare is where it is at. Trust me. I am Canadian. We have public healthcare and would never consider anything else. EVER!

    We do not get our insurance canceled, we do not have limits on how much the company must pay. Preexisting conditions are covered. Move to canada and once you qualify for it you are covered. No questions asked, ever. Your private dr. not company appointed etc etc. So many reasons to have public healthcare and only one to not. The private companies will no longer make obscene profits.

  158. Yes….That is why I am for term limits. Every single one of these yahoos make this a career, and like all people in careers, they make decisions that will help their careers.

  159. actually there is.. Move to Canada and once you qualify, you are covered.

    Public healthcare? Bah humbug. Until you need it.

  160. Debrarae

    No one is attacking you personally but we question your bias of the bush crime family who did nothing
    but stole & hurt Americans for years! All the other bushy phools should note that the past 8 yrs have been
    awful for the World & Americans!

    However the top 2% in this Nation became ridiculously
    more wealthier! Debrarae you obviously are in the
    top 2%! Because who in their right mind would making
    less than 40K would support policies that are against
    their own best interests!

    Hmmm white guys & some lost minorities of sycophants
    as well as a few dumbassed women who are used to the battered wife syndrome that you suffer from!

    I also love the gop mantra of “NO” but instead of NO
    how about positive ideas that will “ADD” to the FIX!
    I know their hatred of Government will not allow them
    to think clearly about All Americans just the top 2%

    All I can say debrarae I hope your love of the Health
    Insurance Companies will love you just as much not to deny your lost behind of Health services if you are
    successful enough to help them to CHEAT Americans!

  161. actually there is.. Move to Canada

    Public healthcare? Bah humbug. Until you need it.

  162. Also, I’m a CPA and have to be independent of entities when I audit them. Every single congressman should be prevented from investing in anything they touch legislation on. Consider it a sacrifice for the love of country.

  163. How would you measure the best healthcare in the world? Would it be through best bang for the buck? Wrong, France is tops. Quality? Wonr, France is tops. Time spent in waiting for care? Wrong, France is tops. How bout best rated? Nope WHO rates France #1. France has the same system we do right? No, they have nationalized healthcare. You are a puppet spewing the talking points of corporations that buy and sell your thoughts without you knowing Lisa.

  164. I must take issue with the statement “we have by far the best health care in the world”. In what regard?

  165. For too many years Americans have given over their lives to their political parties. We have stopped thinking for ourselves and have seemingly decided that we are “victims” of our government. We have conveniently forgotten, we elect the people to office that far too often then sell us down the river. This full blown dive into victimization by far too many Americans have led us down the path of deciding our lives and the lives of our families based on the last media “spin” cycle of our particular political party. Whatever the party tells us to do, we march in lock step like a bunch of Stepford Wives to do their bidding… berating the other party and rarely questioning the logic of our own party choices. We are loyal, if dumb unquestioning soldiers of our political choice.

    I don’t know anybody that doesn’t need or require affordable health care insurance in this day and age. No matter how healthy you are today, tomorrow may bring a catastrophic medical emergency to your front door. You don’t like Barack Obama or the Democrats…who cares, what has that got to do with the more important goal of you planning for our families’ medical future? If this bill had appeared during George Bush’s administration, it wouldn’t be anymore or less needed. We get so focused on political personalities and political buzz words that we tend to throw the baby out with the bath water. My suggestion is ask anybody who is telling you this current health plan is bad or too expensive…ask them if they currently have full affordable healthcare insurance themselves and if they do…tell them to get you the same health insurance plan to cover you and your family NOW and then you will be willing to debate the issue, but until you are on equal ground with them… they cannot give you advice. I have no idea how some many Americans swallow this too expensive idea. The government is always going to be in debt and are always going to run up huge deficits…that is not a good enough reason to delay what may be this nation’s one opportunity to lock in afforable health care insurance as a RIGHT OF ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS rather than as a PRIVILEGE OF THE FEW OF our wealthiest citizens. Who cares if you are a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent, you can still go broke if one of your family members has an accident and needs expensive long term care and rehabilitation. Do you or a family member have a pre-existing medical problem that has prohibited you from getting insurance? WELL, the current bill removes those restrictions. The President’s mother died of cancer fighting her insurance company to see if they would cover all of her medical care. He understands just how critical affordable comprehensive healthcare insurance is for all Americans. Currently, America, the SUPERPOWER does not take care of its own citizens. Look at your bank account and look around at your family members, are you going to vote your self-interest or are you going to accommodate your local, state and federal elected officials (who by the way, have health insurance for their families paid by taxpayer dollars) by opposing a bill that has your best interests as its goal? Your tax dollars buy elected officials health insurance you can’t afford for your own family! THINK FOR GOODNESS SAKE PEOPLE! Ask the elected official who opposes the current health insurance bill if he would be willing to give up his health insurance and put himself and his family in the same boat as you and your family? HE OR SHE WON’T CHANGE THEIR STATUS FOR YOU, BUT THEY WILL ASK YOU TO GO WITHOUT FOR THEIR POLITICAL AMBITIONS. WHY WOULD ANY OF US BE WILLING TO PUT OUR FAMILIES AT FURTHER RISK FOR AN ELECTED OFFICIAL WHO WOULD NOT DO THE SAME FOR YOU???? Bet you a dollar, your elected official is going to do what is in the best interest of his family even if he has to lose your vote. Isn’t it time for your elected officals to show you some of that political loyalty and put the best interest of YOUR FAMILY ahead of their political agenda. Time to take back our lives from political parties. I thought the original idea was that they were working for us?…somehow that’s gotten flipped and they have been telling us what to do for far too long. Come on and flex some citizen muscle on behalf of you and your family’s own SELF INTEREST.

  166. Anonymous, I think you missed the point on my comment about the highest bidder. I am stating that congress (senate and house) have been doing the corporations’ business and not the American People’s business…

    Also I beg to differ what we need is a complete transforamtion ….with a robust single payor public option…

    I think when you use the term ‘Regulate’ it is code for do nothing…

  167. Single Payer

    Look up the definition of “socialized medicine” and “single payer”…they are two different things. A single payer system would eliminate the middle-man – namely – the insurance company – who innovate nothing other than ways to part people from their money.

  168. We thought my father had good insurance and was in a great hospital ( as per their ads on billboards, commercials and infomercials ) His care was rationed. He died. Sadly in TN & VA profit care is more important than patient care. http://www.wisecountyissues.com/?p=62
    The status quo could learn a few things on efficiency and concerned, compassionate health care from Remote Area Medical ( RAM ), a non profit health care system that works. http://www.ram.org They were in Wise County, Virginia this weekend helping families who can’t afford the luxury of seeing a doctor.
    We must have health care reform now.

  169. Nope…regulate is not code for “do nothing.” Regulate is code for “Regulate” similar to how the utility industry is regulated as to profit margin. The Fee structure should also be regulated and options available. Alternative medicine should be a required consideration.

  170. In a way we do have a private army-under the guise of contractors who execute funcions that were once the military’s job. Our little private army is a win-win no accountability to the tax payers/law and it can be said that the size of government is reduced.

  171. WorkingFor Insurance

    So true.
    My husband started his own business. I was freelancing and paying COBRA (VERY expensive) until it ran out. In order to pay the bills and school costs, I had to go back full-time.
    That and my husband has high cholesterol (runs on his side) and takes meds.
    No private insurance for him!

  172. Insurance is socialism. A collective of people who share risk.We’re ranked 37 in the world for quality and first for cost per person.

  173. Ok, I will study the history you speak of. Will you please point out how socialized medicine has never worked and how your system is so great? I mean, you are offereing to cite sources, correct? Thank you for backing up your opinion with fact.

  174. Glad to know you will pass up medicare when you become eligible…hope all of you will. May you never been in the position like my family that you lose your job and have to buy your own, it’s a rude awaking.

  175. lisa
    how about being content with adequate health care?

    no matter how super any health care will become in the end we’ll all have to die

  176. Sorry, Lisa, but YOU are the delusional one. Firstly, FRANCE has the best medical system (care) and many other countries have better public health outcomes than the U.S. All we have is extreme high-tech procedures available to those who can pay or those who don’t want to wait a few months for a non life-threatening procedure such as hip-replacement.

    Secondly, it isn’t possible to just up and “move” to a “socialist” country, or even one with single-payer healthcare. You have to apply for immigration and qualify to work and have a job, and so on if you are not independently wealthy enough to live without working.

    Grow up.

  177. “but we have by far the best health care in the world. ”

    How would you know? I am an American living in France and the French health care system is much better than the private health care most people get in the US. It is a first class health care system that is available to everyone regardless of ability to pay. In addition, the French pay about half per capita on health care than Americans. So the overall costs are less and it’s a better system. I suggest you stop living in your free-market fantasy world. Go study some actual facts while you are at it.

  178. Sure I will go study the history you speak of. Could you please cite the facts to back up your claim? I would hate to hold onto a view blindly. My mind is open to hear your case.

  179. Tony, wrong, we have the best health care money can buy. If you can’t get health care it doesn’t matter how good it is now does it. Speaking of socialism, are you planning on accepting your Social Security check, use public schools, use public mass transportation, use Medi-care or Medi-cade the list goes on? If so then you accept and support socialist systems. The best health care is the health care system that functions and is not driven by profit. Hopefully you will never have to experience the “best health care system in the world” because I’m sure your view will change. It may well be the best but if the average citizen can’t afford it who really cares.

  180. I suppose the founders left it out because health care didn’t really exist. This notion of health care is a recent phenomenon, no doubt fueled by the entitlement philosophies rampant in our country.

    Healthcare doesn’t always provide you health. Real life example. A friend of mine had great insurance. Got an executive exam and everything, that doctor said he should have his heart looked at since it looked like a valve had problems or something. Being concerned, he went to his physician and he said there was nothing to worry about.

    Two weeks later he was dead at 35.

    Health is not an inalienable right. It’s a great thing if you have it, but if you’re like me, sometimes you just have to be content when things are physically wrong with you because you were a little crazy when you were a kid.

  181. This is horrible, Health Care Reform is needed with an emergency. Please….Give Me Another Option!

  182. I don’t think anyone in this article was advocating a single payer system. They were rightly pointing out that if you are in a situation where you need to insure yourself privately, you are not protected from health insurance companies from a) denying you coverage up front for the most common of illnesses or b) rescinding your insurance if you actually get sick.

    If you’ve never had the unfortunate experience of trying to get private health insurance then I suggest you read more about it. If you’ve always been protected from this experience by having employer based health care you could not possibly know how difficult it is to get covered.

    Blindly raging against “socialism” without even considering the possibility of Federal intervention to protect the consumer, yes the consumer, rather than the insurance companies shows that YOU must do a little more studying. Because, in fact, we do not have the best health care system in the world (See here. We actually rank 37th. http://www.photius.com/rankings/world_health_systems.html) if so many of our citizens are uninsured AND we are the ONLY industrialized nation in the world that does not provide, at the very least, a public option for those unable to get coverage.

  183. Lisa,
    It appears you’re good at parroting cliches, but not at knowing the facts.

    The United States, according to the standards and analysis of the World Health Organization ranks #37 among all nations in health care; not #1.

    Most Americans don’t know or understand that every industrialized country has the same technologies, procedures, drugs, and medical expertise that we have. The difference is, in the USA, only those with very high incomes or very good jobs get this level of care. In almost every other country on the planet, every citizen, regardless of job, income or health condition, gets good health care.

    Again, Lisa, no personal insult intended, but you don’t appear to have a grasp of the facts regarding health care. Either that, or you’re a paid shill for the big insurance companies. (They are paying people to blog about this and spread their propaganda, so it wouldn’t be surprising if you were.)

  184. We do not have the best medical system in the world. If we did we should be in the top 1 or 2 of each major medical indicators. However, according the the world health organization we are actually the 37 most healthy country in the world. Countries that out perform us are such places as France, England and Spain. All with some version of universal health care.

    You can have universal health care and still have a capitalist system.

  185. Concerned Citizen

    Please continue hitting the ball out the park!

    Until we have the MONEY OUT OF POLITICS we are
    SCREWED! Our Democratic / Republic WILL NOT SURVIVE!

  186. Best in world! Ha! And double Ha! I have minor health issues myself, but it is enough for BCBS to constantly deny my claims, claim false pre-existing conditions, and look for any excuse to have me kicked off their insurance list.
    And, how about my ER visit that Aetna refused to pay? It seems that they had tiny writing in their policy that says that they aren’t liable for ER visits.
    Best in the world. What a bunch of bull#$QW.

  187. We do NOT have the “best health care in the world”. Go “study” other countries’ systems. There are no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn’t work. People who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of overwhelming evidence. Health care should NOT be just another for profit/monetized industry. Insurance companies are not in the business for your health. They spend untold resources trying to deny as many claims as possible and to avoid covering people who are actually likely to need care – that’s the profit motive. A doctor is supposed to be governed by a concern for the customer’s/patients’s welfare, he’s not supposed to be just another salesman trying to maximize profits. “Socialism” is one of those “scary” words that become meaningless. The most socialized institution in our country is the military. Should we privatize the Armed Forces too?

  188. A decision seems to have been made and no one has caught up yet. This is not a fair fight to begin with, but it’s really not a fair fight if we think we’re fighting for something that has already been decided against. Information is power and right now the public is even more powerless than before.

    The game has changed. Everyone thinks they’re still fighting for a real, government-funded, public option that doesn’t involve private insurance companies. Obama’s announcement says something very different.

    Everyone in America (including every journalist) seems to have missed these all-important sentences in President Obama’s press conference on July 22, 2009. Please, pay attention.

    “Tonight I want to answer those questions. Because even though Congress is still working through a few key issues, we already have agreement on the following areas:”….

    “If you don’t have health insurance, or are a small business looking to cover your employees, you’ll be able to choose a quality, affordable health plan through a health insurance exchange – a marketplace that promotes choice and competition Finally, no insurance company will be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.”
    The operative words here are “Health Insurance Exchange” and “already have agreement”.

    This quote came toward the beginning of the press conference when he was outlining what congress has agreed upon and, incidentally, just 10 minutes after President Obama walked out of a meeting with Max Baucus (D-MT), lead visable Big Insurance shill.
    Apparently the decision has been quietly made and all that’s left will be the structuring of that insurance exchange. (To get a preview of what the battles of the structuring will be, click on the link at the bottom.)

    So, there’s a reason why, as the talking heads are wondering, Obama has since stopped saying the actual words “public option”. The reason is, apparently, because our “public option” is going to be… private insurance!…. with government subsidies for those that qualify.

    A “uniquely American solution”? Yes. Insane? Yes.

    —An insurance exchange (which is what Obama said we’ll be getting) is where the private insurance companies get together and offer a variety of policies obtainable through the government (with the government setting some standards of cost and who they have to cover). What happens there is that, if you choose to go with this government option, the government vets your income and decides what you will pay per month and gives you a choice of private insurance policies to choose from depending on what “tier” of coverage you qualify for. The money you pay goes directly to the private insurance companies and the rest of what they charge for that policy is paid to them by the government (if you qualify for an insurance subsidy).

    This is the worst possible choice that could have been made. This is private insurance getting everyone AND taxpayer money on top of it. Which, to me, means that everyone will be paying Big Insurance twice.
    This is in NO WAY a “public option” that will give private insurance companies competition.

    So for those of you with any spare money, feel secure in buying that Aetna stock!

    NOW DOES EVERYONE UNDERSTAND WHY THE RUSH TO GET THIS DONE??

    Here is a link to more information on the insurance exchange and what would need to be done to make it even remotely functional.

    http://www.centeronbudget.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2785

    Make no mistake, this will pass because it makes sure that the insurance companies will very profitably exist in perpetuity. The conservative dems get to keep their relationships with Corporate America, so they will no longer obstruct and the only winners will be Big Insurance and corrupt pols. A “uniquely American” solution. Every other country also had Big Insurance before they went to nationalized (single payer) insurance. We’re (as usual) the only morons on the planet that can’t seem to make democracy work for the people.

    This also makes the amendment to ERISA, that Dennis Kucinich just got passed, pointless. Which may explain why it passed with bi-partisan votes. They knew what was coming.

    This is soooo wrong!

  189. And look how well that turned out.

    /s

  190. You cannot manage things like cancer, diabetes,and other chronic conditions by going to the emergency room. Just try to get needed chemo from an emergency room, try to get insulin on an ongoing basis from and emergency room. Just try to manage cystic fibrosis in an emergency room. The emergency room is utterly fantastic if you break your arm and need it set but to keep alive with a disease that will kill you if not managed it doesn’t work. That is why JAMA has estimated that over 100,000 Americans die every year due to lack of access to medical care. The right wing is constantly up in arms about abortion killing thousands of unborn infants every year, but if the child has been born and has a chronic disease then it is perfectly free to die. If the child had a chronic disease insurers will not insure it (pre existing condition) and will often cancel the entire family if they have an individual policy.

    Give me the european or Canadian arrangement any time. I also lived for several years in Canada and 6 years in the UK. I also never ever met a person in either of those places that would consider going to the American system. In both places you can buy extra policies so you can get care in private hospitals and with doctors who take private patients. But life saving basic and good care is for every person. It is also cheaper than the care we get in the US and has better outcomes. They live longer, have a better quality of life have lower infant mortality and have better outcomes for things like cancer.

  191. Socialism, So scary…… – our law enforcement is socialized, our libraries, our schools, our post office, our roads and bridges. All paid for by all of us via our taxes. Do you want to give those up? Didn’t think so. Health insurance companies are not in the business of providing health care, they are in the business of making as much money as possible. Let them compete with the “public option” or go out of business, BTW we DO NOT have the best insurance in the world if you rate it by life expectancy, infant mortality or any of many other criteria.

  192. No, it’s simply a catchy phrase that indicates that the author isn’t good at analogies. For somebody who is “inclined to be libertarian” the author also seems to have an odd belief that the government knows better than the consumers what is good for them.

    Health care is clearly a national issue, but coverage always applies to individuals. The problem isn’t in having private health coverage, it’s with the lack of coverage for those who can’t afford it. Private insurance can work very well if you can afford it, assuming, as this story indicates, you get what you think you’ve paid for. The problem of rescission could be eliminated by restricting it to cases of actual fraud.

    Whether it’s accomplished with public coverage, private coverage, or a mix of the two, providing health care to everyone means that we will have collectively pay for the cost of that coverage. In theory, public coverage should be cheaper because it eliminates profit that goes to the private sector. I don’t know near enough about economics to evaluate it it properly, but I will point out that there is a cost to the loss of that private profit. At the same time, private business can be more efficient than the government, so they may be able to do any given job at less cost to the taxpayers. Applied to the defense of all of us, a private army can work perfectly well in theory. It’s only if individuals had to arrange privately to be protected from foreign attack that a “private army” is inherently unworkable.

    On one hand I’d like to see health coverage as one of the many services I get for my tax dollars, but I’m a bit concerned that it could mean my health care costs far more than it does now. How much that care costs *me* is a somewhat separate issue, based on my relative position on the socioeconomic ladder.

  193. bill,
    I agree there is lots and lots of interesting and helpful stuff in alternative medicine but once you allow anything else into a public insurance that has not been proved double blind or so you will be in big trouble cost wise – because up comes the next great idea that wants to be paid for and then the next and the next and at the same time the approved parts of alternative medicine will fossilize because now they have to adhere to some kind of rules and regulations and tolerate supervision.

    in Germany in the good ol’ times insurance paid for water-gym in our spas (does wonders for bad backs) – I lived in a region rich with warm springs – nobody I knew has until the regulations changed ever paid for a visit to a spa out of his/her own pocket … you just went to a doctor complained of a pain in the shoulders and came out with a free ticket for 6 visits in the spa and then another six for a knee hurt etc. Yes it was a kind of fraud, but when everybody does it and it is socially acceptable…
    and I did NOT live in socialist eastern Germany (once we had endured the gym-lesson we could stay the rest of the paid for total of two hours and enjoy the swimming pool) – I understand you can still get those prescriptions now but no more than one or two a year or so

  194. Ah yes, you can keep believing that. I’m sure that life will always give you lollipops and you will never have to struggle through the healthcare mess like 70% of the rest of the population.
    Or, maybe life will just happen and you’ll end up in line like the suckers that you mentioned, asking for your handout. I’ve seen bigger and more smarter people fall.
    Keep riding that high horse – I’m sure that you will never fall off…

  195. We do not have close to the best health care in the world. We die younger, We have higher infant mortality,we have worse outcomes for diseases like cancer, we have pretty good care for some, poor care for most and no care for many. Just saying “we’re #1″ doesn’t make it true.

  196. That’s where regulation comes in.

    All I’m saying is that alot of money is wasted on expensive traditional procedures when less expensive alternative procedures, such as spinal decompression, have been shown to be more effective than surgery or other traditional methodologies.

    Regulation could assist in preventing fraud from both angles.

  197. the US was ranked 37th in health care efficacy in 2000 by the World Health Organization right below Costa Rica & Dominica. “Go study history and stop trying to live in a fantasy world”

    http://www.washington.edu/alumni/columns/dec07/content/view/79/1/1/5/

  198. Do you realistically expect something different from a country founded by religious wackos and corporations? I love America, but I’m pretty sure that we’ve almost always been this way.

  199. In order for that to happen, they need to kick Harry Reid out of his position of being in charge of the Majority Senate. I think he’s terrible and hasn’t looked out for the people since day one.

  200. why is it we never hear what the savings would be to both government and indiviudals if the amount of money spent on health care in this country was reduced by the amount spent on health insurance by all policy holders, minus the real expense of health care those policies cover. we are all paying for a middleman retailer, called the health insurance industry—to get our health care at top retail prices, instead of the disoucnt pricing we could get if we illiminated private health insurance. i have never lost such faith in this goverment, never witneessed such outrageous lying about an issue, as is put forth by the opponents of health care reform now. they can’t square the facts of universal and afforadable meddcal care in canada and our western eueropean allies with their campaign to pepertuate the lack of universal and affordable health care in this country so they boldly lie on a daily basis now, to scare and from their point of view, to hopeuflly play on what they trust is the ignorance of ordinary americas about superior medical care in canada and western europe. tonight for instance you can watch a bogus bit of programming on msnbc that purports to do an in depth anyalysis of the health care debate and come sup with the startling ocnclusion that this countyr must do less health care reform , because we can’t afford more. when the msnbc stoogew was challended by howard dean this mornign on the msnbc morning show, she went bizerk as she tried to shutup howard dean, and stop him from talking about why market place laws of suppply and demand don’t apply to health care! go to msnbc tonight and see the stooge at work and see the lies agaisnt real health care reform perpetuated by

  201. It’s a lot of people of all ages going through the same b.s.

  202. Indeed. I have been wanting to start my own business for a while now. I can’t get independent insurance, so I’m having to wait to start my small business until after I am married and I can go on my fiance’s insurance. And, if he ever loses his job and the insurance, we are so screwed.
    How many other people want to start businesses and can’t for this reason alone? I bet it is many more than we can imagine.

  203. Uhh, lisa, I think you are clearly the one in a fantasy world, and have been a little lax on reading history! Either that, or you are a well-trained republican, i.e., lie about ‘facts” until you get called out! Obama got the most votes, and he was very clear about the health care plan he had in mind during the election. So if YOU don’t like it, YOU move.

  204. And why do the republicans keep saying that there will be a bureaucrat between myself and my doctor like that is a bad thing? I already have my insurance company who is a thousand times worse than any bureaucrat could ever be. At least the bureaucrat wouldn’t actively be working against me to gain as much profit as possible.

  205. I’ve experienced both US and Canadian systems. I was insured through my employer in the US, and through my taxes in Canada. I and my friends have never had anything but good experiences all around — well, except for the Canadian with breast cancer who was forced to quit her job and move back because she was denied reimbursement for her treatment by the insurance company.

    That one story aside though, the stats say that the Canadian system produces somewhat better outcomes for about half the price. See here for a comparison of various countries (done from the Canadian perspective):

    http://www.conferenceboard.ca/HCP/Details/Health.aspx

  206. Pretty sure? Pretty sure we have always been what way?

    I think its fair to say that ever since this country was founded, people have been flocking to get in.

    I would hardly call our founders wackos. If they were wackos, then the current establishment are absolute lunatics and sycophantic schizos.

    Our founders were brilliant thinkers.

  207. Debrarae,
    Thank you for your overly long, hyperbolic, implausible, CAPS SHOUTING filled anti-healthcare reform astroturf post. I am sure you can cut-n-paste your unhinged rant to another website (or several other websites) in about as much time as it takes you to read my post.

    Propaganda Protip: Irrational doomsaying + ‘believe what I say because my babies and I all have Aspergers/[insert manipulative emotional appeal that seems far too convenient to be true here]‘ + screeching that you will all be denied coverage, barred access to doctors, fined, penalized, and even turned into virtual leper-pariahs since anyone who tries to help you after healthcare reform passes will be declared a criminal for doing so = you are doing it wrong.

    If you want validation or acceptance, go post this drivel into an internet right wing echo chamber where everyone seems to sound like you – right down to the excessive use of caps and ‘they’re trying to kill my babies/take away our freedom/put us all in camps’ wack-a-doo rhetoric.

  208. There was a class action lawsuit in California in 2007 for BCBS dropping people because they became pregnant or had an illness for the first time. I believe that they dropped over one million people which prompted the lawsuit.
    It’s out there but hard to pursue unless a state attorney gets involved. These companies have the money and time to stall until the people suing them run out of money.

  209. Bill
    there are limits to what is regulatable especially when it concerns real living people
    I took care of my own very severe back trouble after hving been on crutches for several weeks via Feldenkrais and it was close to miraculous and on the whole not even very expensive, but would it be in a regulatable way for everyone I doubt it. It was very good for the kind of person I am, but for others who prefer to work with treatment that takes a firmer hand i.e. is more prescriptive/authorative they would feel lost and left alone and not cared for and on the other hand there is no way I would want a Feldenkrais-teacher to be regulated other than by his own guild (in Germany they are smart enough to call themselves teacher, thereby avoiding the health regulation system altogether)
    There may of course be alternative treatments which should be incorporated after having been checked
    I am old enough to remember that all health authorities said that camomille was a worthless old household remedy and should be forgotten – today it is back as a highly esteemed medication – the same has apparently happened to mint as a treatment for heart burn

  210. Agree, alternative medicine should be a consideration.

    My miscue on your use of the word ‘regulate’.

    In my mind we need to break the mold. Regulation will just reshape it.

    It is not far fetched when posters’ here comment and say that many in the Health Care insurance industry are not better than the rackets and could be prosecued under RICO statutes. They have literally institutionlized stonewalling, obfuscation, deflection, the run-around by their Customer Service is designed to fatigue their clients in order to retain profits and all of this takes place because congress licensed them to do so….

    But once again we have no one to blame bust congress. They have sold out the American public on every major issue… And I beleived lobbyists and the current system is so ingrained that even term limits are not the answer…it will help but new strategies will emerge…which are just as lethal to the Public’s ability to get a fair shake from our elected reps.

  211. While you should go study FACTS (not to mention comsumerism), and stop getting your information from Ads (Rush included) paid for by insurance company! As for the “socialism” issue – i’m quite sure that if your house were to catch on fire, you’d be right on the phone to your Government-provided “socialist” firemen to come put it out. Humm…

  212. Only people that haven’t lived with socialized medicine are the ones that seem to say that America’s health care is the greatest.. And the US is partially socialist whether you like it or not (this is some big bad scary word to frighten the ignorant).

    Well, I lived in a country (Ireland) where you paid 20$ to see a doctor the same day, then treated. If you needed a prescription, then you’d get it for an equally affordable price 5-10$. If you needed a surgery, then you’d get it. No hassles, no endless confusing bills from the health insurance company,the doctor, the lab, etc..AND you won’t lost the roof over your head trying to pay for it for the rest of your life. So please tell me how the US system is superior? Is the system in Europe perfect? Heck no, but for people that aren’t incredibly wealthy or have insurance through work, it’s good.

  213. Then maybe you should move to Costa Rica for your health care. And do you even know what the “rank” means? Noat actual care but a bunch of other social junk added to the “score.”

  214. I agree, there are limits as to what can be regulated. However, this option should be explored. Profit margin is very easily regulated. What is regulated beyond that is wide open and can be up for debate. Anything over profit margin could be escrowed or refunded to customers on a pro rata basis. This would force pricing down. In addition, if the fee schedules provided to doctors were regulated as well, this would ensure there is a process to validate the best decision was made and not the most profitable decision.

  215. The coverage that the senators and congressmen will get to KEEP is not what WE the PEOPLE are getting.

    FOr facts go to Congress.gov (bill number search) HR 3200.

    And as for a PUBLIC option ……… FINE as long as it doesn’t make PRIVATE INSURANCE illegal and the men and women who SELL THAT INSURANCE criminals as HR 3200 does THUS FAR………..

  216. Lisa,

    Socialists react harshly to anything a capitalist says. Greed and the lust for power are universal human traits; the socialists and utopians just don’t understand, and the power hungry ones don’t care, that socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money. Then you need a system that promotes responsibility and accountability, and you need laws to prevent bad behavior and punish the bad actors. Capitalism with just laws works; socialism only works temporarily. Until human nature changes, socialism is destined to fail.

  217. James Wilson

    Every Child that has been given any type of ADD or ADHD drug is not considers to have a previous existing mental problem.

    Older people are being used by doctors who are trying to bankrupt medicare.

    The doctors call the people in for appointments 3 or 4 times a year. The appointment consist of Hi, Is everything ok? and BYE.

    Then charge medicare !!!!!!

  218. Laura, $2500 per person sound like a lot of money. How many children do you have? Most insurance companies charge about $250 to $300 a month to insure all the chilsren in a family regardless of how many children there are. What is the breakdown per month for you and for your husband? Is this group insurance and what portion of the premium does the employer pay?

  219. tribalogical

    I lived in Japan for almost 12 years. Not a “socialist country”, but they have nationalized health care. I was enrolled in the system the entire time I lived there.

    It works. Excellent medical/dental/vision/you-name-it-care, doctor of my choice, little or no paperwork to deal with… and no waiting.

    Because I was earning $75k a year, it cost about $600 a month (and included my wife and son). If I earned less, it cost less. And my company paid a little over half that fee. It costs less for individuals, less for companies, provides excellent health care, and with no risk of bankruptcy, suddenly being without care, or any other ridiculous anxiety Americans suffer here.

    Lisa, you claim that we have the “by far” the best health care in the world. Spoken like a true provincial. You haven’t been outside your own backyard lately have you? Or seen the reports on the US being #37 on the list of “best health care”? The only thing we’re #1 at, by far, is the cost of that health care…

    I returned to the US a few years ago. I’ve been without Health Insurance for most of that time. Why?

    Well, even if we DO have the best care anywhere, I sure can’t afford it!! BC/BS wants $750 a month just for me, basic coverage, no dental, no vision, limited hospitalization (with a large deductible), $40 co-pay. If I want to also cover my wife and son? Add $1,000. Want dental insurance? Vision? Add another $1,000. Oh, and let’s not forget the “pre-existing condition”….

    $2,750 a month, for some mythically great health care. What’s the point, if I can’t afford to access it?

    I’ll take the $600 a month, total coverage (and excellent care too), thank you.

    And in conclusion, the Japanese have the longest life expectancy in the world. Having lived there, I can say with certainty that their health care system contributes greatly to that statistic.

    peace.

  220. MY INSURER IS ACTUALLY, NOT SOME SYMBOLIC NAME AND LOGO, THEY’RE PEOPLE…REAL PEOPLE.
    YOU’RE ABLE TO FIND THEIR LEADERS, EASY . GO TO ANY
    MAUI GULF COURSE, GO TO SEE WHO BOARDS PRIVATE JETS,
    PRIVATE CLUBS AND POSH RESTAURANTS WHILE YOU’RE AT IT
    KEEP LISTENING FOR LAUGHTER AND BOASTING THAT SHOULD HELP STEER YOU, MAKE SURE IT’S NOT THE BANKERS TABLE
    THEY SEEM TO ACT THE SAME , IT’S CALLED “PIGLYOSIS”
    MORE CONTAGEOUS THAN SWINE FLUE, BUT ONLY AMONG THE CROOKED RICH …GOD HELP US FROM THESE BOARS

  221. Wrong. The U.S. health care system is not the best system in the world. Far from it. As a European residing in the U.S. I can promise you that you will never be left w/o insurance in Germany/Netherlands/Switzerland/France/Sweden/Greece etc. . I have never heard of anyone racking up debt, loosing their home or being denied by their insurer when they claim the coverage they purchased. There is nothing “free” about the current system. Your representatives are bought by the lobbyists who of course act in the best interest of their employers. Basically, your system is corrupt and you are being screwed. You are not getting what you paid for and you’re ok with it. Whatever.

  222. Regulation can break down under the relentless pressure of lobbying and special interest money. Look at what happened to the banking and finance industry – both were supposed to be heavily regulated but they somehow were not.

    Regulation can work – but only when the regulators have the support of the government which controls their funding and the political appointees selected to influence the regulatory agency. The SEC was chronically underfunded, understaffed, and had extremist anti-regulation ideologues placed in top watchdog positions. Other regulatory agencies experienced similar ‘neutralization’ through a combination or repealing regulatory laws, appointment of anti-regulatory ideologues to top positions, defunding, censoring/punishing/expelling/firing/stopping regulatory investigation efforts by agency staff.

    We have been living through a period of history where industry behaves like vampires (glorying in their ability to exploit and destroy for profit) and government behaves like a crime syndicate (fixing things for their powerful friends while ignoring any law/regulation/or substantive effort to promote the common good or represent any constituency beyond the wealthy).

    Too many people are dying each year because they can’t afford to see a doctor, too many families are being destroyed by the debts they incur when they do see a doctor, too many people have noticed that the private health insurers are doing a miserable job and a few regulatory tweaks in their industry just isn’t going to cut it as reform.

  223. Blah blah blah blah. The usual tired talking points from an apologist for a crap system.
    This is the only ‘civilized’ country that I know of that treats healthcare as a business, not as a human right.
    80% of Canadians would NOT change their healthcare system for one like the U.S.
    Does that tell you ANYTHING? Or are you just competely brainwashed?

  224. Eyeball Kid

    Lisa, you’ve gobbled up one of the most egregious myths we own. If it’s the capitalist system that you think is so superior because it engenders “innovation” and competition, you’ll have to explain what happened to the US automobile industry from the 1970s to the present. Since that time, the heavily government-subsidized Japanese and Korean automobile industries have dashed ahead of the US manufacturers by making cars that break down less often and are more fuel-efficient. THAT’s where the innovation took place. You’ll also have to explain how the totalitarian Chinese have innovated their way into every facet of the consumer market and now manufacture just about everything you own and throw away.

    My point is that capitalism doesn’t own the corner on innovation and creativity. Capitalism isn’t a religion, Lisa, it’s an economic arrangement that sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Not everything should be determined by market value. If that were the case, why allow anyone to live beyond their productive years? Shouldn’t we just be killed off or sent to slaughter when we can no longer produce?

    When insurance companies are allowed to determine our health care for profit, our market value decreases as insurance claims increase. Logically, from a health insurance perspective, a threshold is reached in which keeping someone healthy is no longer profitable, at which time that someone (it could be you) can no longer afford medical care. What happens? They suffer and perhaps spread their suffering to others, at which time it becomes “profitable” to create “Death Houses” where, for a modest fee, the sick are incinerated or converted to dog food. Your choice, since capitalism is “all about choices.” Isn’t it?

  225. Georte Tamara

    It is time to go to single payer. I’m for eliminating all the “middle(wo)men.” I know people will lose their jobs, but at least with single payer they won’t need to worry about losing their health insurance.

  226. If Obama wants to shift the health care reform effort into high gear, two actions would signal his seriousness.
    #1. Visit/Volunteer at one of the Remote Area Medical field clinics that offer care to tens of thousands of Americans every summer who can’t afford insurance. Operative presidential quote: “all Americans deserve health care and shouldn’t have to stand in the rain at 5:00 am to get basic medical services.”

    #2. Announce the cancellation (or reduction) of his vacation. Instead carry on the health care reform campaign in visits to medical clinics as well as the districts of Senators and Congressmen (Bluedogs) who threaten the viability of the public option.

  227. You’re the one living in a fantasy land. America already has many socialized services… like school… and the mail… and the US Military all get socialized medicine as we speak.

    Maybe you need to do some studying there, Lisa, instead of just towing the Republican line.

  228. Obama has cited the Mayo Clinic, several times, as a model for good healthcare in his quest for a public plan.

    The Mayo Clinic’s response: “the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite. In general, the proposals under discussion are not patient focused or results oriented.”

    http://healthpolicyblog.mayoclinic.org/2009/07/16/mayo-clinic%E2%80%99s-reaction-to-house-tri-committee-bill/

  229. The conduct referred to in this article as happened to my step-father who died as a result of it. In my opinion the US has the worst health care in the world because it kills folks for a profit. In most places that is considered murder, in the US it is considered progress.

  230. Great post Tracie.

    I caught the President’s speech and the use of the term exchange was very evident as was the dropping of the term Public Option. I knew we were going to get hosed…. Well the health care lobbyists will haveclearly won.

    And I say, as an Obama voter, if this comes to pass, let’s make it one term for this sellout.

  231. How can 37th in the world be the best health care? I come from a country with the single payer system and it works very well. This system does not.

  232. “Lisa” won’t reply because either she’s a paid troll or she’s one of those birther types you saw at the Palin rallies. She isn’t interested in facts. Also too, this may sound nasty but I am betting that registered nurse from NC was probably a rah rah Lisa-like Bushie/Repub who went on about how people could get their own insurance blah blah before she got hit by cancer and BC/BS put her through all that they did.

  233. Obama, seems more in a rush to crack the egg of getting “health care reform” through congress no matter what the end result. The current option of “an exchange” will be nothing more than feeding the coffers of the private health insurance industry.

    I voted for Obama and I am becoming quite unhappy with what I see is just another politician selling out the American People to Corporate America.

    Obama will be a one-term president – if we do not get a robust pubic option without ties to the private industry.

  234. So many people freaking out about socialism. 99.9% couldn’t tell you what socialism is if their lives depended on it.

  235. It’s very simple! A health care industry that’s based upon the same principles as the auto industry or Wal-Mart, (PROFIT) cannot continue to work! When these entities that comprise the industry (Pharmaceuticals, Doctors, Hospitals, Laboratories, etc) base their industries on profit, it places a price tag on each human life. They can only make a PROFIT by denying claims, raising rates, or gouging customers by high drug costs so their stockholders can get wealthier. They’ve abused the system and priced virtually every American out of the market except the well-heeled. IT’s time this industry as nationalized to insure thta ALL Americans are covered. To Hell with the Republicans accusation of SOCIALISM when 45 million americans are without insurance or quality care. What good is the best health care system in the world (a false claim anyway) when 45 million people cannot afford it?

  236. Bill,
    as to controlling things through doctor’s fee schedules an example from Germany’s
    some decades ago it was calibrated so that doctors would get more money for keeping their equipment rooms busy with for example microwave radiation for sinusitis
    – as a patient at that time you had a hard time finding a doctor who would rinse your sinuses, kept the doctor busy a long time, got him comparatively little money and the patient was not enamoured of the ugly but very efficient procedure.

    Now not to malign the doctors the demand of the public (fuelled up by media reports?) for high tech treatment had forced them and the public insurers (who gave green light to the innovation) in the first place to buy all that fancy gleaming apparatuses leaving the doctor in debt and therefore kind of forced to putting it to use. Around 1990 my sinuses acted up again, now doctors were all into the rinsing procedures and the equipment rooms looked a bit derelict.

    Once you regulate around living beings the regulated inanimate system and the unregulatable animate person HAVE to get into conflict and will produce stupidities and you just have to live with the Zeitgeist and differentiate between minor idiocies and the dangerous ones and hope for early updates and adjustments preferrably after the doctors have paid of their debts for the equipment because otherwise they might get grumpy and only a happy doctor is a good doctor
    … and a body is not a finance system
    PS:
    when I had my tonsils removed in the early sixties the old-fashioned habit of sucking ice cubes was supposed to do you terrible harm. When I was last in that part of the hospital ice buckets were everywhere …
    The high art of the health care system is its ability to convince us again and again and again that this time they got it finally right …

  237. “If you want socialism move to a socialist country. We are not socialists in America. Yes, there are problems with the system, but we have by far the best health care in the world.” – lisa daha

    Those of you who uphold the American health care ’system’ are aiding and abetting manslaughter. You are the definition of a bad and destructive person who lacks the courage to look at the facts, and uses fantasies to justify the deaths of innocents.

    “The United States spends the most money on medical care of all advanced industrialized countries, but it performs more poorly than most on many measures of health care quality.

    SIGNIFICANT HEALTH CARE QUALITY PROBLEMS PERSIST

    * The U.S. is 33 percent worse than the best country on mortality from conditions amenable to health care – that is, deaths that could have been prevented with timely and effective care.4
    * The infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 7.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 2.7 in the top three countries.4
    * Recent studies show that only a little more one-half (54.9 percent) of adult patients receive recommended care. The level of performance is similar whether it is for chronic, acute, or preventive care and across all spectrums of medical care — screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.6 ”

    Much more where that came from.
    http://www.nchc.org/facts/quality.shtml

    But you are not about facts. You are about justifying killing Americans.

    We could have a great system. You would rather that we suffer and die, for your pet ideology, for your resentment, for your hate.

  238. Eric Paulsen

    We are not socialists in America.

    Except for our police and fire protection, our school system, and taxing individuals for the good of the collective many.

    If you take all the benefits away from the people that innovate and produce, they will stop producing.

    Yeah. Sure. So you think that because Pharmacom can’t sell it’s aids medication (which costs them maybe $7.50 to make) for $200 a pop they will refuse to sell it for $50? My big hairy buttocks they will! And IF they decide to stop offering the medication then somebody ELSE will. That’s how it works in a HEALTHY market – also something our vaunted capitalist system has ruined.

    Free, 1st class care for everyone sounds great…it’s just that it never has and never will work. Go study history and stop trying to live in a fantasy world!

    Nothing is free, but we already pay taxes and if we all pay a little more so EVERYBODY has access to health care then that is a good thing. I have already paid too much for several wars, bailouts for airlines and banks, subsidies for agribusiness… When can some of my tax money go toward something GOOD for a change? Maybe it is you who needs to study history. Read a book though because Fox news and Rush Limbaugh are NOT historians. Oh, and RNC talking points do not count as a book – no matter how many pages they are written on.

  239. True to all your points but, What is the population of France? How much does France pay to other nations for relief and aid? How many wars is France engaged in now? This is not a matter of opinion but simple facts that were are overextended and nationalized healthcare would be irresponsible at best right now. Its not as easy as saying we shouldnt be in these wars. Even Obama has’nt changed that. Its not as easy as just raising taxes on the rich. When the rich leave the country who will pay? The middle working class. More government has never and probably will never solve our problems.

  240. You have a very low opinion of people. Something you share with most conservatives. You think the prime mover for most people is greed. That’s not my experience. Those people tend to gather around the same watering holes, and the insurance industry is one of them. I don’t want a doctor who is in it for the money. I’m happy when they are well-compensated, but I want them to be there because it is their passion to care for others. You are also mis-informed about who has the best health care in the world. If you are looking at outcomes, we show very badly. There are things that we, as a people, can best do by joining together. The police force. The fire department. Libraries. Many examples. And health care is one of them. I believe in our ability, our creativity, and our intelligence to address this issue to let us become that best health care system that you would like us to be. We need single payer, with a private option. Let insurance companies make money by providing cadillac care for those who want and can afford it.

  241. I’m sorry, I don’t follow you.

    When I refer to fee schedules I’m referring to what Obama is concerned about and which he illustrated in his press conference. His point was that sometimes peoples tonsils were taken out because it was the most profitable, not necessarily the best care or needed care. Decisions should not be based on such things and I agree with Obama on that. If profit is regulated it will inherently keep prices down and affordable, just like electricity. The fee schedule will by necessity be changed, if not eliminated.

  242. “PS Don’t get me started on GOP/Right to Life people who don’t want the gov’t to pay anything for anyone. You have a right to life when you’re a fetus because you’re cute. When your an adult with no insurance and cancer, it’s because you’re lazy and worthless and you deserv it, according to these NIMBP types.”

    This has eluded me for years…the right to life as long as your a baby…what about a right to quality life? Forcing unfit people to become mothers is what will allow the cycle of “welfare queens” to continue. Then let’s talk about the fact that we cut funding for Head Start and Early Head Start, so these kids never ever even have a chance at a better life. Another clear indication that as much as we claim to be a classless society, the haves will always fair better than the have-nots.

  243. You might want to know what you are talking about before you post – my British mother-in-law is being treated for a brain tumor in England and she has had the best of care, seen all the specialists with no waiting, gotten the drugs she needed… but not once has had to fill out paperwork or been asked “what type of insurance do you have and what does it cover”. Imagine how much less stressful it is for her to know that her healthcare is free to her, she never has to worry that it bankrupt her or worry that her insurance might not cover what the doctors prescribe.

  244. With all due respect to the anti public health plan crowd, and especially those who claim that the legislation will force us to ”

    (if HR3200 passes) If for any reason we should lose our private care insurance, it will be ILLEGAL for us to get new Private insurance.

    BUT WE will NOT be covered under HR 3200, which means we pay out of pocket (on the black market, as we will be DENIED TREATMENT since health care (according to the exact text of HR 3200) will be serverely rationed).
    And other nonsense from
    debrarae July 27, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I have been reading the bill you cited (hr3200) and I have to admit the language is so confusing and the terminology, written in ‘legalese’ is difficult to understand just what they are saying and to whom it applies. Yet you have read it and understand what is being proposed.
    Well, you are going to have to show me the specific passages you refer to because I cannot believe, based on your postings, that you are capable of understanding the legislation. Someone is feeding you your talking points.
    If not, then you should have no trouble indicating the passages which, say, prevent us from obtaining health care because of rationing and the other claims you make. Show us the text.

  245. Indeed! We are truly on the path to h*** if the FF were wackos…

    This is not to say that there were not religious wackos that were here…god knows that we are still paying the price of the Puritans in the Commonwealths of this country. (I mean come on, until recently I could buy beer on Sundays in PA…) However, I firmly believe that if the FF were religious zealots, there would be no separation of church and state, in fact, it would be like Iran…

  246. CLD
    as I have read my complete Orwell essays and novels backward and forward I think I know a bit
    but what I like best is that Orwell said something like
    anybody who doesn’t wish dearly that true socialism were possible is truly a bad person and anybody who believes it could actually work is stupid.

    I think he used stronger terms but I don’t remember them but I sincerely believes he is right. It is something to be always strived for while one should always keep in mind that only small bits are achievable if one doesn’t want to do more harm than good.

    By the way as far as I can tell Orwell never stopped fighting for socialism and the British tried for it so hard that when in the mid-seventies an office from an American international company was supposed to relocate from Paris to London they fought tooth and nail to go instead to Germany despite the language barrier and our social-democratic government but they couldn’t fathom facing all the rules and regulations the British were imposing on employers and at the same time keeping their work force on the move around the globe.

  247. Well bombs seem a bit extreme, and as a non-violent atheist, I cannot agree with those terms. I AM however willing to chain myself to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield building here in Pittsburgh until they actually cover what they say they will.

  248. I fundamentally agree with your article and with most of the comments about both the truly nasty rescission problem and the low quality of our health care system. However, I do have a minor quibble about the statistical argument – if I can remember my statistics correctly. I scanned the comments; someone may have raised this point already but I didn’t catch it.

    Assuming the industry data are correct, a <.05% rescission, all else being equal your individual probability of your policy being rescinded remains about the same year after year, regardless of how long you stay with the insurance carrier (assuming that the .05% rates is invariant over the years). Your argument would be the same as saying that my chance of pulling the jack of spades from a fresh deck is 1/52, but if I do it year after year, in 26 years, it will be 1/2. If the deck is refreshed, that is the year starts anew, the probability each year is still 1/52. Given all the losing lottery tickets I have accumulated over the years, I wish it were otherwise.

    Now, the real questions are:1)what is the probability of being reviewed and rescinded once you hit "the threshold"? and, 2) where is that threshold set – at what estimate cost of care?

    It is likely that your probability of reaching the threshold rises as you age but once you hit it, your probability of being reviewed and rescinded skyrocket. This, after all, is why we buy insurance It is unlikely that we will have an honest estimate from the insurance companies on these two data.

    Again, a minor point that does not take away from the points made. Just a retired mathematician, who is now fuzzy about statistics, wanting to weigh in. Hope this helps.

  249. Dr. Frankie

    Didn’t take long to get served yet another fact-free, indigestible plate of free marketer, anti-gubmint talking points.

    It just never ever fails.

  250. Lisa,

    Before you spew your right-wing talking points, perhaps you should consider a few facts. Try looking at Freedom House (www.freedomhouse.org), arguably a mildly conserative organization that monitors various freedoms around the world. They publish rankings every year, examining the degree of personal freedoms, press freedoms, governmental corruption, fairness of the courts,etc. I draw your attention to the Scandinavian countries (Sweeden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, etc.), all capitalist, but all with strong socialized programs. Notice how they uniformly rank very high in things like freedom of the press, freedom of association, and independence of the judiciary, while ranking low in things like government corruption, etc. In fact, they tend to beat the pants of the U.S. They also uniformly have the very best health care systems in the world, clean environments, high use of alternative energy, etc. If you take the time to educate yourself, a greater reliance on free markets and privitization is usually not associated with those features commonly thought to be associated with democracy, including minor things like freedom and human rights. In fact, it is the opposite. Greater freedoms, democracy, honest courts, high standards of living, and excellent health care are typically found in those industrial countries that have strong social programs. I know it’s frightening to actually do some research, but facts are never convenient to the conservative argument.

  251. Dr. Frankie

    “Socialists react harshly to anything a capitalist says.;
    And vice versa.

    “that socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money.”

    The same could be said about the crony capitalism system we have now. Less and less for those in the middle class and below, everything for the rich and politically well-connected. (Does anyone think Rahm Emmanuel would’ve made 16 mils in 5 years w/o strong political connections?)

    “Capitalism with just laws works”

    That is the key to the Kingdom, isn’t it?. Alas, it was taken away from us in 1976 (IIRC) when the SCOTUS decided that money was free speech. (Buckley v. Valeo) Strangely enough, it never occurred to them that the absence of money meant no speech at all.

    And that is why Congress, in its never ending quest for more lobby money has perverted the notion of just laws.

    So, while people get rescinded and die for lack of care, what are we supposed to do? Fear the big socialist bogeyman and wait for our turn to be rescinded?

  252. Just because someone is against the healthcare plan currently proposed does not mean that they are for the healthcare industry as it currently stands. Straw men do not make very formidable opponents.

  253. Dr. Frankie

    If you want real naked capitalism, move to one of those South American countries.

    Hope you have a very solid stomach. It is not pleasant to go to the hospital and hear a 22 year old woman screaming in pain because she doesn’t have the money to pay for treating a 80% body wide 2nd and 3rd degree burn.

    But if your ideology is strong and pure, that may bring you some comfort in thinking that after all, she deserved it.

    PS: it took this woman 21 hours to die. Would you like to see the video?

  254. Dr. Frankie

    Speaking of your fantasy world, take a look at this:

    http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/lucky-enough-have-health-insurance-od

  255. Lisa there is something really wrong about your research or maybe your sources of information.

    Socialized medicine is when the the government runs/controls the system. Socialism is when the government runs/controls all of the industries and systems. Neither one of these is what we have or are planning of having.

    The health care system proposed is very specifically not going to be run/controlled by the government. Just a little reading on this will verify this. In fact we often hear of Canada and England having socialized medicine. They do not. There is much in both countries that is private. Look it up. Check out what NPR, the people’s news station, reports on this.

    Since there is govenment run systems in this country I will add that it adds up to a fraction of 1 percent.

    Also we do not have the best system on health care in this world. And what we do have costs twice as much as other countries – some of which offer more and just as good care. Check the infant mortality rate as one factor.

    Then, if you believe that run amok capitalism and the greed associated with it is a good thing, then you are not thinking what is good for all of us but rather what is good for some and best for those at the top. You have a confused view on what should be good for all.

    Health care, education, prisons, and others I leave you to imagine should never be a part of a ‘for profit’ system. Check out one of the best in the country in California – a non profit health care system.

  256. July 27, 2009 at about 5:30 pm Texas time.

    First, attaboy Wilbur. I have not had time to read everything, so this comment may have been made. Pardon, if repetitive.

    I am sure companies try to find reasons to deny coverage but what is suggested to handle the high degree of fraud out there? Assuming we do not get some kind of Candadian system and private insurance is still around, how do companies catch the cheaters? I am not an industry lapdog but I know there is a lot, I mean a lot, of fraud out there.

    While I am at it, if we get a Canadian system, I ask how in Canada they handle the abusers and hypochondriacs? It will off piss me to have to wait and wait and wait for attention if I am behind a bunch of fatties, alkies, druggies and others whose choices result in medical issues.

    We need a system of sending those people to the back of the line.

  257. What are the NAMES of these “insurance companies”?

  258. My husband is retired military (21 years service, 2 wars served in combat). We have Medicare and Tricareforlife coverage. I can tell you that we are blessed to have it for only the cost of Medicare PartB. No deductibles, no copays, we have full choice of doctors and hospitals. If this is socialized medicine, it is the very best, I assure you, and nothing whatsoever to be afraid of.

    In addition, let me add this: My mother lived in London, England for the last 25 years of her life, happily married a British gentleman. She was enrolled in the national health care system. For the most part, she was in good health but towards the end suffered from severe dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, was blind and deaf and completely disabled. Every time I went to visit her, she received visits from her DOCTOR!!! who came to do complete checkups and prescribe medicines. How long has it been in this country since a doctor made a house call except to the very very wealthy???

    My father was a medical doctor who ranted for hours against “socialized medicine”. That was back in the 50’s. He was wrong then, and so are the people who are doing the same thing now!

  259. Lisa I believe what we call socialism, a system that is owned and run by the government, comprises less than one percent of the American system.

    How would you ever consider this a socialist government.

    You err on this because we have been fed the line ‘socialism’ to describe what we see in a country like Canada and England. Well in neither of these countries is the system owned and run by the government. As is always the case those that have something to protect use words to scare and know that most of us are not learned enough to do anything but react to the made up scenario. You too have falled for this fiasco. A little more research and you also will not be fooled by those who profit from our ignorance.

    Take those that scare us with words, check out where their money comes from, and you will have begun the journey on who to believe.

  260. commonwealthclubvideos

    Wanna check out what’s happening on the other side of the isle?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzIy1AJ_hj4,

    George Shultz & John Shoven came to the Commonwealth Club June 11th to talk about their healthcare reform proposals…

    Enjoy!

  261. Insurance Exec

    I was recently laid off from my corporate job as AVP of Compliance with an individual health insurance company. Over the years some of my responsibilities included managing the process of rescission. I believe that the article got most of the information correct. One issue that is really not correct is that the rescission investigations are initiated not usually due to the cost of the claims coming in the door, but due to the diagnosis, which must be one of the diagnoses on the application form. Before anyone blasts what I am about to say, let me just add that I am for healthcare reform and actually sat on the reform committee for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the largest industry lobbying group. I am politically very progressive and believe that everyone should be covered.

    Here is the problem…..many people wait to apply for coverage AFTER they go to the doctor and find out they have a horrible condition that will require expensive treatment. I saw it every single day of my job…….that is like applying for auto coverage AFTER you have had a wreck and expecting the carrier to pay for the repairs!!!!!!!!! Most of the time, these individuals just could not afford health insurance premiums until they find out the treatment will be way more expensive. I completely understand why people would lie. If they tell the truth they will not get coversge and rescission of coverage is a risk they are willing to take. Yes….insurance carriers should be made to investigate the history up front before issuing coverage, but the author is correct, it is very expensive and would increase the premiums for everyone else. The carriers rely on the truth from the applicant and to be honest I do not believe that the questions are that difficult. Though my years in the industry and knowledge of medical terminology probably erase my objectivity on that issue.

    I truly believe the only way reform will work is if coverage is mandated for everyone and every citizen has to pay for insurance. Then we can do away with rescissions and pre-ex conditions. We have to make reform work..it is not an option!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! no matter the cost, because the cost of no reform is much higher.

    Do know this, that there are thousands of Americans who work for insurance companies and they are not the enemy….we have all had relatives and maybe even ourselves with nightmare stories about insurance……

  262. It’s such a sad thing to hear day after day that the private insurance companies feel no remorse or guilt at all for putting patients last and greed first. I can relate personally to this as one of my closest friends has also faced similar circumstances in her battle with Crohn’s disease and the insurance companies. You can read her story here – http://rxvette.blogspot.com/2009/05/healthcare-reform-touches-home.html

  263. At least I unlike YOU are going by the facts! THe only thing YOU can do is to attack people who you don’t agree with. How mature…….NOT

  264. TonyForesta

    “Do know this, that there are thousands of Americans who work for insurance companies and they are not the enemy….we have all had relatives and maybe even ourselves with nightmare stories about insurance……”

    I sincerely doubt it. All those thousand of Americans who work for insurance companies are participant in a system and for companies that are ruthlessly predatory, abusive, and in many circumstance criminal.

    The profit evils must be eliminated from the insurance system (in the form of socialized, or nationalized insurance and universal healthcare) for every single America. We have read above countless examples from our foriegn friends who attest to the FACT that European, Latin, and Canadian citizens (and especially those citizens that are poor or lower middleclass) have access to far superior healthcare than any similar American can ever imagine. I am one of 50some million uninsured Americans. There is no such thing as a perfect system, or a totally atruistic company, – but there is are astronomical differences between the systems and companies in other countries and the thieves and swindlers in the American insurance industrial complex, who are bent on gleaning enormous profits, woefully disinterested in healthcare or insuring healthcare costs effeciently, and wickedly quick to cancel insurance on anyone, any American (especially veterans, children, the old, the poor) who truly needs insurance coverage. So if your proclomation is true Insurance Exec, – how do you people sleep at night.

    Insurance companies and anyone working for insurance companies in America at this time are part and parcel of a systemically abusive, corrupt, heartless, manipulative, criminal, and dastardly enterprize. May the goddess have mercy or your cold dark hearts.

  265. Brad T – As a self-insured person, I would LOVE to pay about $250 a month for health insurance. That’s most likely the employee’s share of the burden – the company would pay the extra $500 – $1000 a month over and above the employee’s share.

    $2500 per family member each year is about what we pay now. And costs go up astronomically every year. If your employer covers it, you are most likely not informed of the real cost of insurance.

  266. Seems nice in theory… how to make it work in our world today – another story. LOVE your idea of making insurance companies paying a penalty for dumping sick people after taking their money for a period of time….

  267. My fear is that the public plan will become the dumping ground for the sick. The private insurance companies will continue to rescind people who are sick; the very best docs will sign up only with the private insurers and those who are seriously ill will end up in the second tier system treated by the docs who’ll do anything to get a patient. (Had a less than positive experience when using an HMO in terms of finding good docs on the plan…)

  268. There is an excellent Frontline episode that compares the medical care systems of six nations, including the U. S., Nationalist China, Germany, the U. K., Japan and France. Of these six, the U. S. spends the most, 18%, on medical care and insurance as a percentage of GDP (Germany is second at 12%, everybody else is 10% or less) and has the largest uninsured population both nominally and as a percentage of the total population. Doctors apparently are as competent and well-educated in each of these countries (to believe otherwise is arrogance of the worst sort – born of ignorance and conceit) and they earn a very good living, comparable to doctors in the U. S. (one English GP earned 200k pounds/year, very high for a GP in the US) Those stories of long waits for visits and surgical procedures are misrepresentations (lies? fabrications?) and occur no more in those countries than in the U. S.

    Meanwhile, although we spend more than anyone on medical care as a nation (and as individuals), we rank 37th in the world (somewhere near Costa Rica) in overall quality. In the U. S., if you can afford the best, you can have the best. But, that’s the case anywhere in the developed world (if you can travel and afford the best, you can leave your poor country and get treatment in a rich country – happens all the time).

    Go to http://www.pbs.org/frontline and search for this episode, yourself.

  269. Where would they go? France? Or, better yet, Libya? What would they do there? Be entrepreneurial like the French or the Libyans? Marginal tax rates were very high before 1980. The peak rate was 90% during part of the Eisenhower administration and was 70% for a much of the 1960s and 1970s. The baloney you’ve been eating has poisoned your mind.

    Besides, you just agreed that we’re overextended. Let’s refocus on what matters, reorder our priorities to increase the priority of quality of life acts vs. national security. What kind of society do you want – a fear-driven militaristic oligarchy or a humanitarian, supportive republic?

  270. Just wait until you have a serious health issue and your insurer cancels your coverage because you failed to disclose a minor cold more than 25 yrs ago. Then will you still think America has the best health system?

  271. Ron Paul – Rep. from TX – DID refuse that insurance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul

  272. some guy in a cube

    American corporatism is all about how badly they can screw you.

  273. You have to ask? Half of them are fronts for companies that love operating in the legal gray areas, some even have some mafia ties. I’m quite apt to believe he actually had that conversation! ;-)

  274. We’re not socialist?

    Give up your police, fire, and military protection if you think we’re not socialist at all. Oh, and give up on health regulations. Privatized courts will be awesome too; won’t it be great when you sue a company and have to go to court in a private court held by their parent company? Oh oh, how about privatized water? That sounds AWESOME!

    I sure love living in a pure non-socialist free market country where it’s every man for himself.

    Seriously… what’s it like being so self-centered that a) socialism is a dirty word and b) helping your fellow man touches off your gag reflex? I’m just curious since so many flag wavers seem to be so sure they’re not socialist at all while expecting the SOCIALIZED police and military to protect their rights to be capitalist.

  275. “How care you be PAYING for COVERAGE, only to find out later you are NOT COVERED?”

    Umm. This happens with alarming frequency with today’s private insurance companies….

  276. Lisa, Do you currently have health insurance? Have you ever been without health insurance? Have you ever lost your job and your health insurance? Have you ever been elderly and couldn’t afford supplemental health insurance? Well?

  277. Lisa,

    If you want innovation and production, have a single payer system so people can be free to start their own business without having to worry about the prohibitive cost of private health insurance. Basic coverage in the USA for a family of 4 is $1000 to $2000 a month, depending on your age.

    If you had breast cancer in the past, forget about starting your own innovative business because nobody will insure you.

    I feel strongly that our current system takes away opportunities for innovation.

    Our current health care system is creating a BRAIN DRAIN because many brilliant minded people are stuck working for a large company due a past health problem and can’t afford or get private insurance.

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  279. We’re a democracy. If we decide we want socialized medicine, we can have it. Then YOU can move somewhere that still has free market health care, if you can find one.

  280. Insurance Exec

    Tony…..I have worked through the years for some of the biggest companies in health insurance. Everyone I have worked with, in medical case management, claims administration, customer service, litigation management and regulatory compliance is very conscientious about the services the companies provide and believe that they are trying to help people in their time of need. It does no good to simply demonize a system that has funded and administered the healthcare system for the last 50 years. You are demonizing the people who do try to assist people with their illness/claims.

    I am probably about as progressive /liberal on the political spectrum as you can get here in the US. I was on Obama’s fund raising committee when he ran for senate here in IL. I am trying to give some perspective to this story from an insider’s view.

    How do you think American’s would have funded the medical treatments over the last 50 years? Doctors would still be paid by bartering.(chickens and eggs anyone?)…..Physician’s would not make nearly the money they currently do because no one could have paid them so much. Our country was not politically mature enough for healthcare/insurance reform 50 years ago.

    The public also is woefully ignorant of how the system is funded and would rather spend their time watching another Michael Jackson memorial instead of reading their insurance policy and knowing what coverage benefits it provides.

    Our health care funding sytem is a mess. But I do not believe a single payor government system is the answer.

    Health insurance is heavily regulated on the state level. It costs insurance companies millions of dollars just to keep up with all of the new bills/regulations each year. If it was regulated federally it would be less expensive to administer. But state governments do not want to do away with all the state regulation.

    Healthcare and health insurance are two completely separate entities, do not confuse them. Healthcare is the treatment and health insurance is the funding mechanism. I belive we all have the right in this country to quality, affordable healthcare. We do not all have the right to health insurance, anymore than everyone has the right to auto insurance.

    Demonizing the people who try to make the system work efficiently and fairly , as it currently stands, is juvenile posturing. It serves no purpose in moving this debate forward. People love conspiracy theories and I guess it is easier to believe insurance company employees are all related to the anti-christ!!!!!

    I have personally taken over the administration of claims for my two sisters-in-law that both died of cancer and had problems with their health carriers. I handled my mother’s paperwork when she underwent cancer treatment. I have gone over to the homes of the parents of my friends to assist with sorting through all the piles of paper from the insurance companies. All those sheets of paper are required by the state governments.But the insurance companies get blamed for it.!!!!!

    You are demonizing the wrong person. Grow up!!!!

  281. You can’t compare auto insurance to health insurance. People can choose whether they wish to have a car. People by and large, however, cannot choose whether they need to have health care.

    This post was drawing particular attention to the practice of rescission. Is there any way you can find it in you to defend it? Is there? Go ahead and try.

  282. Chad – cite your source- I ‘ve seen where the US is #1.

    That said ratings can be deceptive. I find it very difficult to believe a socialized system will work better than a well regulated capitalist system. It’s just not in the nature of nationalized, socialist systems. There is no inherent market information feed back loop function in a socialist system.

    But the real question is why if you want a socialist system don’t you go to a place that has one. It’s your choice. Why do you have to impose your will and your craving for the heavy hand of the Nanny State upon someone else. Most Americans, by a large margin, want the choice of a private system, and they should be allowed that freedom of choice. It’s their right by the way. It’s what America has always been about. Freedom.

  283. Tragically, I am grown up Insurance Exec, and while I appreciate your need to defend and protect an industry that is abusive, predatory, manipulative and criminal, – I do not see in my personal experience any evidence of the Insurance industrial complex serving the American people in any positive way. While you can attack me all you want, you do nothing to defend the industry you work for and represent. What may have been in the distant past a necessary part of the American dream, – the insurance industrial complex today is a criminal enterprize bent on profit, and NOT HEALTHCARE. PROFITS trump the good health of the American people. A single payer system is the only answer. Diminishing the unholy profits of the insurance industrial complex and it’s twisted actuarial accounting, and callous disregard for the peoples best interests and health and it’s casino capitalist investment strategies are the necessary subtraction that must be forced on the insurance industrial complex, so that EVERY American has access to insurance and so healthcare. What service do you and your fellow insurance agents provide to Americans? Again I am uninsured. Why because the costs are exhobidantly prohibitive. I simply cannot afford to insure myself. I do contribute to my daughters insurance (Allah be praised) but alas there is no way for me to have access to insurance and so I am deprived healthcare.

    What is more important to you and your fellow insurance compatriots – profits and sixfigure salaries for a few thousand cold hard hearted predators and manipulators – or providing some basic healthcare to every American. It is your salary and your industries exhorbidant profits that must give, and your industries abuses, predations, manipulations, and criminal enterprizes that must be curbed, constrained, nationalized, and socialized for the greater good of the larger society. Unfortunately apologists for the insurance industrial complex are eager to brute the fallacies of freemarkets, and imponderable profits, while ignoring that plight of millions of you fellow Americans who suffer from an industry that is bent on profits alone and acts in deleterious ways to undermine and deprive millions of mostly poor and middleclass Americans of access to health care.

    Your income is secondary to the greater good and health of the larger society. I know it is painful to imagine a world where you cannot profit from other peoples suffering, but imagine for one moment what it is like to have a debilitating disease, or pre-existing condition and being deprived of access to healthcare. Your focus is on profit, the rest of us are concern about health and life.

    I’m sure you are a decent man or woman and someone who proclaims to care about the rest of humanity – and I am also sure you are torn between loyalty to and industry that has paid you handsomely and provided abundantly for yourself at least, or your family at most. But there are millions, – millions of your fellow Americans who suffer greviously for your illgotten gains. If the insurance industrial complex were to suddenly recognize it’s system evils, or the fact as you say that “…the system is a mess”, – and willing and able to correct it’s ways and play fair and focus on healthcare and NOT profits – then maybe your point would have some validity. But obvious – this is a wild and hopeless dream and the only real hope those millions of your fellow Americans many of them children is for the government to nationalize the insurance industrial complex, erect and implement a single payer system and provide universal healthcare for EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN. The predatorclass, the superrich have to pay more so that those less fortunate can enjoy the peace and security of basic healthcare. It is the predatorclass and insurance industrial complex wanton greed and ruthless coldhearted obdurance that has perverted and corrupted any possible good that may be born from socalled freemarket healthcare or insurance. You and your compatriots have abused and violated the rest of us, and we do believe a word you say. Of course, I am only the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and in reality your insurance industrial complex PR firms and billion dollar lobbies will bribe and capture our socalled representatives. We all know in the end you, and you insurance industrial complex cohorts will triumph by capturing the relevent government officials and agencies and stomp down any citizens hope for reform, or regulation, or universal healthcare wherein EVERY American has access to inusance and so healthcare.

    My only questions are why do you need to abuse, victimize, violate your fellow Americans – and how do you sleep at night?

  284. My life depends on Health Care Reform….Layed Off from the Colorado Belle Casino, to simply be rehired weeks later without benefits. In the meantime, I had emergency surgery for a mass that turned out to be cancerous. Colon Surgery was performed on Feb 14th, staples removed from a foot long incision two weeks later, and still waiting to have a follow up visit. The Doctor will not see me until I am insured or have the cash for futher preventitive care and tests. Five months and still amongst the living and working only part time now, so employer won’t be responsible to give their rehired employees any futher benefits. Please let the Marnell Corporation know you are aware of their heartless tactics.

  285. Forgive the double post, but I meant to say “We do (NOT) believe a word you say”

  286. mint and chamomile … very nice

  287. Why the United States can have such a large military apparatus but cannot pay for national health care is beyond normal reasoning.

  288. Dr. Frankie

    You are an Insurance Exec? Really?

    I’d looooove to see you take a shot a the points our ex-colleague Wendell Potter raised in his testimony in Congress and on air with Bill Moyers.

    But I’m not holding my breath. Your post was a pathetic attempt to whitewash the ferocity and heartlessness of your industry.

    Come on, admit it! Wall Street owns you people, and you got to parade in ranks at their drum beats.

  289. here are some figures to give you an idea of how very very much your system must be different from the rest of the world 50 % on top for the young and 3 times as much for the old
    – it is health insurance with nothing excluded for travels up to 10 days covering emergency treatment until transfer back home is possible, transport costs included – our public health system covers at best some of the costs abroad

    http://www.hansemerkur.de/produkte/reiseversicherung/urlaub/auslandsreisekrankenversicherung

    Auslandsreisekrankenversicherung weltweit ohne USA/Kanada ab 8,- EUR* bis zum 65.Geburtstag

    ab 18,- EUR* ab dem 65.Geburtstag
    Auslandsreisekrankenversicherung weltweit inkl. USA/Kanada ab 12,- EUR* bis zum 65.Geburtstag

    ab 54,- EUR* ab dem 65.Geburtstag

  290. Bill,
    “If profit is regulated it will inherently keep prices down and affordable, just like electricity.”

    again you take an example where something not alive is regulated

    my point is that once you regulate health care by whichever parameter you focus on you will run into absurdities

    and the crux is that you cannot leave something so vital like health care unregulated

    so it necessarily will be an unsolvable problem with a constant back and forth balancing act with the ideal solution forever elusive
    … but for the mass of us non-rich this always somehow flawed coverage will be a lot better than the “invisible hand”

    (by the way I just heard Amartya Sen tell the BBC that Adam Smith was very much concerned with making the SYSTEM JUST – you do not hear that very often from those so fond of quoting him all the time, do you?)

  291. Silke forgot to ask all of you debating …

    wouldn’t it be nice to tweak the data of travel health care insurers like the one cited above to find out if the chances of survival/good outcome are better for an elderly suffering a stroke/heart attack during his/her travel in the US as compared to Australia? or Japan? or any other country with a supposedly advanced health care system

    the insurance company having an intense interest of getting the patient home under the public insurance system as soon as possible and the foreign doctor/hospital having an equal strong incentive in keeping the totally covered patient in his care as long as possible.

    I think the comparison could not be made with other EU-countries because there may be some interfering agreements between the different public health systems.

    If such data have been tweaked could they not give a real answer to whether US health care is superior?

  292. Good post, interesting comments. I’m an American living in Norway. How does it work here, where taxes pay the most of it?
    (1) Everyone has a self-chosen primary dr who is responsible for coordinating prescriptions, referrals etc. That dr is paid a small amt per patient per year for office expenses, whether the patient needs care or not. And I’ve never had to wait more than a few days for specialist appointments or tests like imaging.
    (2) We pay for everything (some partly subsidized) until we reach the ceiling for the year. About $300 for 2009. Prescriptions which are defined as necessary for chronic conditions as well as dr visits are free thereafter. Many healthy people never reach that ceiling. Children’s expenses are combined with those of one parent.
    (4) In-patient care is free.
    (5) Unfortunately, dental care and eye glasses are not included in the system after the age of 18.

    I find this system absolutely satisfactory. It’s a bonus to know that no neighbor of mine will be bankrupted by medical expenses.

    One of the worst things about the U.S. system is that employers are involved. There must have been a reason once, but why now?

  293. well the wonders of the Norwegian system are admired universally but it is a small country which apparently manages to handle it’s oil wealth well

    – you just cannot compare any of it with any other country except maybe others who are lucky enough to have commodities for sale

    – but other than the incomparable cost part I have been told from a colleague who had a doctor relative in the country that Norwegian doctors handle a lot of health problems differently from what is usual elsewhere so maybe one should look which of these procedures (presumably also integrating some alternative methods) developped under an almost limitless financial umbrella are cost reducers

  294. If health insurance companies actually made “the system work efficiently and fairly,” we would not be having this debate.

    Health insurance companies dump sick people, refuse to insure healthy people because they saw a therapist once to talk over some issues, or because years ago, they had an intestinal issue or they had acne.

    Health insurance companies require TOO MUCH TIME from patients to negotiate payment for covered treatments.

    Your industry is demonized today because of its shabby and reprehensible business practices. Cancer and other significant health issues are difficult enough without having to fight with the insurance company over treatment and payment for covered treatment. Sounds like your family understands that horror all too well, despite your career in insurance.

  295. Are you out of your freakin mind! 1) We are at the bottom of developed nations in health care and spend 2 or 3 times more than anyone. 2) People aren’t going to stop doing what they do because they get a dollar less and we are not talking about venture capital we are talking about greed, the reason we are in all our messes in the first place. 3) If you ask Canadians if they want to return to their old private insurer system they will get their guns out! As a side note I have been seeing a lot more youtube features on military training for economic collapes in this country and way too much talk about revolution involving guns all due to the fact that the lower and middle class are subsidizing all these corporate jets flying overhead while feeding the occupants off of gold rimmed plates and silverware. This trinkle up economy has a due date on it and it’s getting sooner all the time.. tick tick tick.

  296. We were a democracy. Please prove me wrong.

  297. Donald Thieman

    Thanks, James, for shining a bright and accurate light on this “innovation”. Probably no more than 10% of under-65 insured adults have an illness or surgery that could trigger a recission review in any given year, so 0.5% of the total population would be at least 5% and likely a bit more of the “at-risk” population for this practice. If you’re a middle-aged policyholder, your risk is obviously higher, since there are younger adults and some children in the denominator. There is little doubt that the larger the claims costs, the more thorough the review for reasons to rescind by an aggressive underwriting department and supporting medical directors.

  298. Donald Thieman

    ANOTHER “innovation” in health insurance, both employer-based and individual: the “member centric” or “patient-driven” benefits package, including those with a “health savings account” that may or may not include any employer contribution to the “savings.” Sold by consultants nationwide based on early and spurious evidence of cost reduction, more likely related to the fact that only the healthy (if they have a choice in the matter) will choose one of these lower-premium options. “Skin in the game” is a favorite catch phrase of corporate executives selling this concept (personal experience in the executive suite, here, like Wendell Potter’s at Cigna.) Skin in the game is not a big deal if you are comfortably upper middle class. Skin in the game in the form of a several thousand dollar deductible can mean seriously delayed, important care if your income is a more typical middle to lower-middle class income. So, “skin” for you can mean your long-term health, personal bankruptcy, and in over 20,000 uninsured and underinsured Americans each year, the skin is life itself–they die because of delayed care. Some “innovation,” eh?

  299. You’re brilliant

  300. cite YOUR source.

    “Most Americans, by a large margin, want the choice of a private system”

  301. ah what are the malpractice insurance rates for Doctors in France? I hear tell that in France you are NOT allowed to sue a doctor for malpractice..is this true.
    And if that is true then no wonder health care costs so high in this country. Without Tort reform costs will not go down.

  302. I do not know about France but I had a colleague in Germany who survived cancer to end up in a wheel chair with a paralyzed spine due to careless radiation
    – it took him about 20 years to win his court case while all the time living on the brink of bankruptcy due to court fees and fear of ending up in the hands of a doctor affiliated to the clinic.

    Also he had to do practically all his own lawyering and evidence and prior cases collecting (he was medical advisor to all of us and a very good one). Fortunately for him he was a chemist with a Dr. (PhD) and a job with a more than decent employer (until the McKinsey/mergering craze began at least) and consequently a secure job with a very good income.

    And even though he won his case all he got was a guarantee for his income to be paid on the then current level plus inflation should he be forced to retire due to the injury

    Can you imagine how much he envied you Americans for the possibilities of your tort law?

  303. Don’t know about France, but in Norway one doesn’t sue a doctor, hospital or a clinic. Of course there is ‘malpractice'; no one’s perfect. A guilty doctor is disciplined: from losing prescription rights to losing license short term or forever.*

    The patient or family doesn’t need a huge sum for future medical costs, as that’s paid for anyway. They may receive a few tens of thousands of dollars, but it’s the medical system, not the courts, who decide that.

    * (Near where I live, a couple of years ago, one doctor did indeed lose the right to practice forever. In the middle of the night he correctly diagnosed sudden onset juvenile diabetes, gave the 15-year-old a huge dose of insulin and told the mother to “keep an eye on him.” She called a hospital to ask if that was reasonable, and they sent an ambulance. She was going to report the doctor, but it turned out that the hospital already had done that.)

  304. Insurance Exec

    I have been on both sides of the health insurance issue, as a patient/insured and also as an insurance company employee. While I support reform as do most people with any knowledge of the current system, I also know more about the inner workings of a health insurance company than the majority of people. So I guess maybe I have a more balanced view of the situation than those who have only been an insured.

    I am not an apologist for the insurance system, but I do believe that the issue is more nuanced than the media leads people to believe. It is an emotional issue and news stories about people losing their coverage makes for more viewers.

    I certainly don’t think the system is perfect and it absolutely could be more efficient, but people inside the companies do try to make it more efficient.

    Yes, it is a “for profit” industry. There will always be profit and cost cutting. If we do away with the insurance industry do we all expect that the federal government will do a more efficient job? hmmmmmmm…not so sure about that.

    I think rescission of coverage is an awful situation, but it does come back to contract law. There are very few rescissions of contracts given the overall number of new policy issues. That is not mean that the rescission is a good thing for those that have been rescinded.

    I think that there are two sides to this issue: those that want to scrap our current funding system entirely and those that would like to make it work better for everyone. I fall on the side of expanding our current system to cover all Americans with some major changes like guarantee issue coverage and a mandate that everyone has to be in the system and pay a portion of the premiums.

    “American Insurance Industrial Complex”!!!!!!!!! wow what a title that is.

    Yes insurance companies can improve, a lot!!!!! But again, this reform is going to have to include physicians, hospitals, insurance carriers and government to be effective……….

  305. Leonard Daneman

    For a legal and news analysis of why your HMO subscriptions and health care costs doubled since 2000, go to http://paralegalnm.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/personal-injury-attorneys-and-liability-insurers-stealing-from-hmos-and-injured-parties/

  306. Paul: “Most Americans, by a large margin, want the choice of a private system”

    According to a recent poll — sorry, i do not really follow this closely — most Americans want choice, but they also want a public option. They do not want socialized medicine, but they do not want to be at the mercy of the private insurance companies.

    I was surprised to see Congressmen arguing against health reform because they do not want bureaucrats to come between people and their doctors. That struck me as curious at this point in time, because that’s what the private sector has given us. Are the Congressmen unaware of that fact? This rhetoric will fall flat, because it is not an argument against reform, it is an argument against the status quo.

    Besides, IIUC, Congressmen have a gov’t health plan. Have the Congressmen who oppose reform opted out of it? Aren’t they worried about the bureaucrats?

  307. Isn’t there an option to pay an extra premium and make the policy unrescindable, even if the application contains innocent mistakes?

  308. Those of you who keep repeating that we have the best healthcare system in the world are incorrect. Our system is inefficient, overpriced, and ineffective. Even if you had all the money in the world to spend out of pocket, without patient-centered care, your outcome would be inferior. Read surgeon Atul Gawande’s June 1 New Yorker article: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all

    “Americans like to believe that, with most things, more is better. But research suggests that where medicine is concerned it may actually be worse. For example, Rochester, Minnesota, where the Mayo Clinic dominates the scene, has fantastically high levels of technological capability and quality, but its Medicare spending is in the lowest fifteen per cent of the country—$6,688 per enrollee in 2006, which is eight thousand dollars less than the figure for McAllen. Two economists working at Dartmouth, Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra, found that the more money Medicare spent per person in a given state the lower that state’s quality ranking tended to be. In fact, the four states with the highest levels of spending—Louisiana, Texas, California, and Florida—were near the bottom of the national rankings on the quality of patient care.”

  309. Thank you Kathy! Let’s not forget public transportation and parks… The government provides the floor for services…let the private sector provide the ceiling (just like in education).

  310. Mrs. Wilson

    It is all true and would be horrible if it was to happen to you, yet think of all those insured who knowingly scam insurance companies for services they don’t need or don’t even get. I don’t mean to defend insurance companies as I’m sure they are well equipped to defend themselves, but it all comes down to cost. So basically if we were all honest and used insurance as it is trully intented we wouldn’t have the issue described in this article because insurance companies would not need to find ways to make money to cover all the fraudulent claims.
    On another note, government run health care such as the one that exists in many countries in Europe, has even more flaws than the private insurance available in United States. Unfortunately until Americans experience the long wait lists for treatment and underfunded hospitals they will argue that private insurance companies are out there to get them and their money. Medical care system will be one more place that government will make their budget cuts just like our school systems are experiencing every year. IS THIS WHAT WE REALLY WANT?!?

  311. Thank you PSLA for reminding me that there are still people less jaded and cynical than I.

  312. I’d like to point out that veteran health care is socialized medicine, and I haven’t heard anyone calling for its abolishment. I also have yet to see any evidence that our VA healthcare establishment has caused any of the ‘domino theories’ that people continue to accuse nationalized health care as leading too. I’ll admit that the VA doesn’t create as many millionaires or billionaires as our private insurance system does, but since when has it been a matter of public policy to increase the number of super wealthy? Public policy, in my opinion, should be geared toward increasing the standard of living for every single member of our society.

    From an economic point of view, why is it that we drop nearly a trillion dollars, in the blink of an eye, to bail out banks and insurers? Yet the idea of spending money to maintain a healthy population is so heavily opposed?

    More on topic for this particular TAL story, it seems to me that if an insurer is going to rescind coverage to someone who has been paying premiums, they should be responsible for refunding those premiums. Charging someone for a future service, then not delivering that service and not refunding the charges seems like fraud to me.

  313. no..I like reptiles…no reptile would act like an insurance man.

  314. Humans are cold blooded, ruthless and creepy…some of them just happen to be in powerful positions in a lot of industries- banking, mortgage, health insurance. There is fraud everywhere there’s opportuntity for fraud- even Medicaid. We can’t demonize companies- it won’t provide the best solution to our problem. We should demonize dishonesty and make it socially unacceptable at all times- not just when the consequences fall to us. Our financial problems and our health care problems are really just the failure of our sense of right and wrong on a grand scale.

  315. Donald Thieman

    “Long waiting lines” in Canada and elsewhere are a part of the mythology propagated, using cherry-picked anecdotes or just plain misinformation, or no information, by those who want you to be terrified of even a “public option” in federal health reform. In Canada itself, neutral observers understand that “waiting lists” are kept by self-interested health facilities, with no interest in purging the data to reflect folks who have already received the service elsewhere in their own area, because the “lists” are used to make budget requests from the Canadian health authorities who dispense money. Like so much of the dis-information used to oppose change, this is distorted to suit the desired message of folks who make a lot of money in health care as it is. For us to swallow these messages, in most cases, is against the better-informed self-interest of those doing the swallowing. And if not their individual interest, most certainly the interests of their children and grandchildren, who are much less likely to have the level of benefits enjoyed now by fortunate high-tech employees, military retirees, or union members with negotiated, rich benefit packages. High deductibles, delayed care, personal bankruptcies and thousands of unnecessary deaths each year because of too-late crisis care, could become the new norm, instead of the large minority experience they are now. About a fourth of the U.S. population is underinsured or uninsured already. There is no magic solution, and thinking our current approach can be tweaked to good effect without major change is believing in magic.

  316. As someone who sees this mess we call healthcare from the inside and outside, something must change and soon. I’m much more comfortable with a faceless government bureaucrat rationing healthcare who is answerable to an elected official than faceless insurance company executive rationing healthcare who is answerable to only those rich enough to afford an opinion: stockholders. No, I don’t love Obama. In fact, I think one of his biggest mistakes was closing the terrorist detention facility Guantanamo Bay. It would be the perfect place to send insurance company executives until we can figure out a solution to this mess.

  317. So the reform we really we need is “Health Insurance” reform not healthcare reform.

  318. Inovations like toxic mortgages (NINIJA loans)?

  319. Medicare (a government program) has less than 5% overhead. Private insurance (a private business) spends 20% of premiums on non-medical expenses such as dividends and overhead. Single payer is right thing. Do the right thing. Tax the greedy.

  320. On paper we’re the best. If you get sick – well just try to get some of that great care.

  321. Unfortunately, the indirect nature of our Representative Democracy has led us more and more toward a Corporatist Totalitarian state
    where only those individuals and companies with money have any true say. So it would be difficult to actually implement single payer health care because the health insurance industry has more power over our politicians than the people at large!
    So it’s likely that we must fight for political reform before we can make any real progress on this issue.

  322. You can fight for a more direct system of government that allows you to choose where your tax dollars go…

  323. Wall Street wants Humana to make profits, lots of profit. Humana is willing to pay congress money, lots of money, to allow them to make lots of profit.
    Lincolns’ Government of the people by the people and for the people has parished on Wall Street.
    The people working for the Health Insurance companies should sell insurance that covers recission and rider insurance on all types of insurance.
    eandj09@hotmail.com

  324. I’ll provide some abnormal reasoning, then.

    It’s BECAUSE we have such a large military apparatus that we cannot pay for national health care. (being a bit facetious here, but it’s not too far a stretch)

  325. Look up the free clinics in your area and see them. As long as there is good will in this country there will be a way to get the care you need without the big business of government and insurance. Let me know how it goes at dlj98328@sbcglobal.net. Donna

  326. Free Clinics may work (on a limited basis) for low level care, but certainly aren’t going to help with anything major (like surgery).

  327. Amen to the VA; I’m a recent iraq vet and back in graduate school, and without the VA I’d be paying out of my nose for a health plan that I’d only consider using if I had a catastrophic emergency. All the VA folks at my center (San Francisco) have been friendly and helpful–no complaints.

    Frankly, my experience with socialized medicine (military and VA) has been pretty darn good. Might not have all the bells and whistles, but I’m still living and breathing–nothing wrong with that.

  328. Right! I could understand some not trusting government to do a good job, but then we see the VA. Almost every user of the VA seems satisfied with that brand of socialized medicine. Why not begin there and expand it?

  329. Just an addendum. All of you who think everything should make a profit, remember this: Before we had our current “socialized” police and fire departments, firefighting was a for-profit business conducted by gangs of street thugs who demanded payment before dousing a fire. If you didn’t pay up, your home or business would burn, frequently taking the whole block with it. Whichever gang arrived first supposedly got dibs on fighting the fire (and getting the payment), but often several gangs would battle over who was going to get paid, and meanwhile, the fire would burn out of control. This was a major factor in the 1837 conflagration which consumed NYC’s entire downtown business district, including the merchant exchange and the post office.

    This is sort of what happens with health care these days, only it’s the insurance companies who are fighting *not* to pay for your care, and they don’t have colorful names like the “Dead Rabbits,” but soothing marketingese names like “Humana,” when they should be called “Inhumana.” While you and they fight over who’s going to pay your doctor bills, you might get sick and die before you can sue, or you might give up because you’re too sick and tired to fight, or you might just pay up. All of these outcomes benefit the insurance company, which doesn’t have to pay. And now that they’ve got you on record as having an illness, they can refuse future claims or insist that they must “count towards a deductible,” which is always, always the default position on a major claim.

    In my experience, I have never had an insurance company cover everything it said it would, including basic care items such as mammograms (deductible), routine annual labs such as pap smears (deductible), ER visits (deductible), and even hearing tests (outright refusal). They always manage to weasel out of paying, and threaten my credit if I don’t pay.

    The ACL reconstruction surgery I had 15 years ago was pre-approved and precertified, and I used an in-network orthopedic surgeon. In return for this, 100% of my costs were supposed to be covered after my co-pays. Instead, I got nasty letters on red paper for five years afterwards, telling me that I owed $2,000, or 20% of the cost, and threatening my credit. Even though I used an in-network doctor and hospital, they refused to pay for the pathologist because they claimed he was “out of network.” I didn’t even know a pathologist was necessary until I got the bill; I certainly had no say in who he was, since I was under anesthesia at the time! I wondered if I were really supposed to rise up off the operating table in a morphine-induced stupor and ask, “Etthhkooothe meh. Ith thath an in-nethwuk pthologst?”

  330. Love the comparison in the first paragraph!

  331. Donald Thieman

    “Insurance reform, not healthcare reform?” Sorry, but no, no, no and no! It is precisely the explosion of over-use of high-profit, high-technology services by care providers and the underlying drug, device and hospital industries who profit even more than most of the doctors, that put insurance companies in the high-profit, mostly cost-plus situation they enjoy–steadily over the past four decades. Without strong healthcare delivery system reform, insurance reform can only rearrange the deck chairs, leaving most of the problem of uninsurance, underinsurance, bankruptcies, delayed care, lost health, and unnecessary deaths to continue.

  332. Donald,
    but aren’t the media scaring people senseless with all their reports about what doctors missed out on? and you have to hve your doctor check up on even the remotest possibilities – when have you last read a convincing piece telling you that you are allowed to an imperfect human being

    Germany has by now probably tried all possible caps on costs there are except censoring fearmongering by the media – ooops free speech –

    and the cost keep rising maybe more slowly than they would otherwise but always on the brink of becoming unsustainable.

    And all I read is that once Americans will manage it via the free market compatible cost managing the results are going to be different. I consider that delusional.

    If I had to start a new health financing system I would try to limit it as ruthlessly as compatible with current medical knowledge to necessities and then try to limit somehow the wedges/loopholes, as they will inevitably evolve, by free market measures or by shamelessly authoritarian capping. But the start at least should be a very no-nonsense system. The outcome will never be just but hopefully for a lnmber of decades understandable and manageable and livable before untanglement again gets the upper hand.

  333. I’ve been trying to keep up with everything that is comming into the bill now marked up and I’ve calmed down some. We all want to be able to go get health care at a resonable cost. I agree insurance companies rake us through the caols. Government is run to help protect us from every bad act from terrorist to our neighbor stealing from us. I am thankful they are making changes to do this. But we need to be very careful to protect the constitutional rights of all American citizens. I believe our all members of congress are taking notes on what we want and I pray it will be best for all.
    Let’s take time to breathe and give them a chance, now that we all have had a chance to express our opinions. I think they got the message we still have a voice and will be heard. Thanks to the wisdom of our forefathers.

  334. Thank you for this share. I hope our people in congress will make the changes neeccesary to protect us from these type of cituations and put into a program that will benefit all of the citizens of the U.S. I pay a lot to insurance why wouldn’t I want to pay less for more? And to be able to help those less fortunate is the foundation of this country that makes us world leaders in charitable organizations that reach out into the world. I took a young lady and her children to the doctors yesterday for a school pyhisical for her 4th grader. She would not be able to do this if it were not for our taxes here in IL already providing these services.
    I hope congress makes changes but in doing so by protecting our constitutional rights.
    Again thank you for sharing.

  335. Recision? We don’t need no stinkin’ recision!

    My individual policy from Hawaii Medical Services Association (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) includes an elegant work-around: “Your coverage will terminate at the end of the month in which any of the following takes place: … We terminate our agreement with you by providing you written notice 30 days prior to termination.” So, all they have to do is delay for a month or so, and I’m gone.

  336. Donald Thieman

    Silke,
    You make good points. The additional and dominant piece is the influence of the sellers of technology in American health care and the providers of care who use technology for profit–the so-called “medical-industrial complex,” named to recall President Eisenhower’s phrase “military-industrial complex”, which sustains the “permanent war economy” in the United States since World War II ended. The combination of doctors and hospitals who over-use new technology for profit, and the makers of drugs and medical devices who create them and over-sell their value to patients, and the insurance industry which operates as much as it can in a “cost-plus” mode (squeezing out the sick patients and ratcheting down the quality of health benefits to maintain profitability as employers demand lower premiums); that large combination of forces using their respective market dominance to the maximum to extract profit decade after decade, is much more powerful than the fear of doctors that imperfection will lead to ruinous lawsuits. That fear of lawsuits is real, and less of it would be good, but the best estimates are it would only reduce our U.S. health costs by 3% or so if we made that fear as small as it can be. That aforementioned “medical-industrial complex” is the elephant in our U.S. living room that too many avoid talking about. Unless we change that aspect of how we deliver health care, we won’t accomplish much to gain coverage for all those with no insurance or poor insurance–because we just won’t be able to afford it.
    Don Thieman, M.D.

  337. Donald Thieman
    maybe this morsel will “amuse” you http://www.slate.com/id/2223938/ – quote see below my rant

    and as to fear mongering the public – for the first time in my life I read the German main tabloid BILD (I get it from my neighbor spending money on BILD is for people of my mind-set unethical ;)
    and I am frankly appalled at how much fear mongering is going on – always I am threatened to be short on this or on that or urgently need to have this checked etc. etc.. Also this whole business of taking precautions for being allowed to die when the time has come. It seems I have to write one of those directives but most of all I want to communicate in an atmosphere of trust with my doctor … how I can manage both at the same time I do not know – I will have to talk to him (I know there are rational answers to the dilemma but they just feel terribly impolite to me – I say Doctor I trust you completely but nevertheless I feel better after I have handcuffed you?)

    “Fortunately for Hawaii’s hoteliers, one industry still feels sufficiently healthy to keep on partying: health care. The week I visited, the American Society of Pharmocognosy (natural drugs) had set up shop at the 1,600-room Sheraton Waikiki, and the Grand Hyatt Kauai was hosting the 18th National Kaiser Permanente Internal & Family Medicine Symposium. Aside from golf, it’s a safe bet the agenda included plenty of discussion on how to deal with President Obama’s health care reforms.”

  338. What Silke describes in Germany is also happening here in Canada. For many years now the for-profit medical lobbyists have been raising the alarm our national health care system is unsustainable and going down the tube. Lately with the Democratic health reform of sorts underway in the United States the for-profit lobbyists in Canada seem to be under the radar screen.

    Given that Canada spends apparently 10% of GDP on national health care raising spending by 1% would put more money into the system. But not perhaps enough for the private health care industry who likely prefer that every Canadian undergo every known new and often unproven medical procedure, technology, drug and test available. Sometimes as Silke has pointed out in another comment mint and chamomile may be just as effective.

  339. anonymous above is Tippy

  340. Tippy
    ” mint and chamomile may be just as effective.”
    but the fine point of the mint and chamomile saga is that they were long denounced as ineffective “house cures – Hausmittelchen – please note the diminuitive” and even dangerous to believe in like for example magic magnetism or so.
    However, there was a company who didn’t want to give up on making money on its chamomile solutions and so they went into a long and arduous fight for a patent (the lawyer was one of the people I worked for) all the while proving via double blind and all that stuff what folk lore had known all along that chamomile or rather bisaphenol actually was effective (it disinfects and dries up wounds if I remember correctly)
    as to mint I have recently learnt form my pharmacist that mint is now an APPROVED and INDISPENSABLE ingredient against heart burn because it relaxes the stomach (whatever that means – unfortunately I am allergic to the stuff and so stick with the good old Natron which currently is supposed to kill you prematurely because it is basically salt)

    what baffles me about these things is why can they not do the verifying and approving without all that maligning interlude?

  341. Silke, you wrote: “what baffles me about these things is why can they not do the verifying and approving without all that maligning interlude?

    It might have to do with Big Pharma. They might want to discredit traditional remedies as quackery, or else control the market when such remedies are approved.

    Silke, would you take a look at the video link I left in my comment at the post titled: The Value of (Not Having) a Public Plan … I’d be interested in what you have to say about the story told in the video

  342. Tippy
    the company which fought to rehabilitate chamomile was part of Big Pharma … no smallish alternative outfit could have sustained the patent part of the fight and that probably applies to the double blind testing parts of the process as well

    the patent lawyer even claimed that his fight changed a fundamental part of patent law allowing for the first time naturally grown stuff to be patented (forgive me I am a bureaucrat) — thereby rehabilitating chamomile but opening the door for patented crop seeds so farmers are not allowed to harvest their own seeds anymore?

  343. Very informative post, thanks for sharing! I have bookmarked this post. :)

  344. Paul,
    I thought that malpractice costs was an issue so I voted to cap them when it came up in California as a ballot issue. We now have caps on awards and it has done nada to reduce the cost of health insurance. The only thing that benefits California these days is a marginally more healthy population in general. But torts weren’t the problem.

    There is a gut question you have to ask when you argue the side you are taking. Do you think health care is something that everyone should have (like clean water) or something that you earn (like a car)?

    Healthcare insurance these days costs about $12-20k for a family per year (estimated to rise to $24k by 2020). You can get cheaper monthly with huge deductibles, but the costs are still there, just paid differently.

    The median income in the US is around $50k (2007 census bureau). After taxes that is around $40k+. That makes health care around 25-50% of net income. This is more than housing. At minimum wage, it is 100% of income. So do those people get sick and die? Get maimed? It is really an ethical question as much as an economic one.

    Regardless of public or private delivery, an enormous percentage of Americans simply cannot pay for the health care they need to live. I am not talking about extreme cases like cancer or accidents, I am talking about their share of the risk pool.

    So the question is really simple and painful. Do we, as a civilization, “socialize” costs and have the wealthier folks pay for the poorer, or do we simply abandon them? Is health care a right or a privilege?

  345. They do. Every other year in November.

  346. What’s the scoop on return of premium in the proverbial rescinded-policy case?

  347. Investment houses are entertainment houses.
    Surprisingly this IS news to people.

  348. PSLA, you are ignorant but wordy. Many Americns, even with insurance have long waits for care and clinics that are in ghastly shape. Moreover more than 100,000 Americans die each year from PREVENTABLE medical error while IN Americans hospitals. (IOM, 2000 and also recently.)

    American hospitals are hotbeds for really nasty bacteria so it is not uncommon for patients to get something really bad, and oft times deadly from being IN the hospital.

    Guess what, some Americans already have government funded health care and they are pretty happy with it. No one has ever turned it down. They get to choose their own doctors, have no pre-existing exclusions, and the premiums are moderate.

    Have you ever heard of Medicare? I sure hope you keep true to your principles and turn it down. Oh, and Social Security, too. That’s another one of those gov’mint programs.

    By the way, the reason that Medicare is in as much trouble today is because Republicans keep dumping other groups and benefits in without providing funding. Nixon added the disabled; in the 80s they added kidney disease sufferers, the the Bush Republicans gave the farm to insurance corps and pharmaceutical corporations, all with out adding any funding.

    I guess the Republicans love a public plan, Medicare when they want to increase its coverage, but when the Democrats have a plan, they scream like banshees and cluck like chickens.

  349. Hi Sui
    these hospital infection causing bacteria are to the best of my knowledge a problem for even the most hygienic and best run hospitals in Germany and worldwide. If I remember correctly they are the ones that survived antibiotics in common use and superdetergents. Therefore some think that now the race is on:

    who will win antibiotics and/or detergents or bacteria and will mankind be smart enough to come up with something new before the bacteria can triumph (at least for a while)

    by the way I consider the answer to that question a lot more decisive than the latest cancer drug. No matter how wonderful such a drug may be for the individual sufferer whether it exists or not does not make a huge difference for health care world wide.

    so no reason to malign America for having the same problem as every other advanced hygienic medical treatment outfit.

    last time I was in hospital for a small job there was advice for patients posted everywhere on how to help the personnel to keep the threat in check.

  350. Donald Thieman

    In general, premiums are refunded when the policy is rescinded–much cheaper for the insuror than paying the claims, of course.

  351. Eyeball Kid,
    In Lisa’s defense, competition is an extremely important factor in innovation and productivity. Toyota would not necessarily have the highest quality cars if it were the only provider. Their goal of being the worlds biggest car manufacturer put them in competition with GM and Ford, and they chose to compete on the basis of quality.

    In fact, the *lack* of competition in healthcare is a big issue. In over 40 states, a single health insurance company has over 40% of the market. As a result, they do not have to compete anymore, and can basically set their own rules.

    Capitalism is extremely (ruthlessly?) efficient, and will favor the best use of capital. This benefits us enormously by driving innovation and productivity. The perversion of capitalism happens in two forms:
    1. Winner take all – When the winner of the competition achieves market dominance, the self-correction of the market fails. They can starve the competition and destroy the dynamic.
    2. Perverse incentives – Capitalism cares about profits, which means spending the least for the greatest revenue. This drives productivity, but often by compromising other objectives. In areas like education, justice, and health, there are drivers which are not strictly profits, including the concept of universality. These tend to be compromised.

    We live in a capitalist country, and competition is our main function. In order to avoid the perversions of competition, however, we have to manage these two factors. We cannot allow market dominance that removes capitalism, as it simply substitutes the inefficiency of one bureaucracy, government, with the inefficiency of a large corporation. We also must enforce basic guidelines, like universal, equal access to health, education, and justice, so that competition occurs on a playing field that does not destroy the basic goals of our society.

    If we manage these outcomes, we can let the capitalist system find the right way to deploy capital, and it will succeed.

  352. Don Thieman, M.D.

    Matt, your analysis is spot-on for insurors. We must also add many health care providers–hospital systems and group practices that enjoy monopoly or oligopoly power in their local markets. That is rampant, and because many, many defensive hospital and practice consolidations have happened in the 1990s onward, in response to managed care contracting by monopolistic insurors, we have a health care market where non-competition is more the rule than the exception. Add government’s inability (by its own laws bought and paid for by drugmaker lobbying) to negotiate with drugmakers on patented products, and you have our current state. To call preservation of the status quo either “competitive” or a “choice” option for consumers is laughable.

  353. Indeed – losing health insurance is the main reason I have not started my own company. My wife is an independent consultant, and if I wanted to go independent, we’d be looking at about $2,000/month to replace our health insurance. $24k as the tax to start a small business is not tenable for me.

  354. Oh, we’re not socialists? who do you go running to when things go wrong? Who just bailed out your sorry economy?

    And no, we do NOT have “by far the best health care in the world.” I lived in France for 12 years, and even though I was not a legal resident for six of those years, I got the best health care I ever had in my life. Maybe I couldn’t afford the kind of great health care YOU can afford, Lisa Daha. But in France, I got the great health care people here only dream of. And cheap. Even at full price, when I was not a legal resident, everything there costs a quarter of what it costs here.

    Free first class care for everyone in France is a reality. I guess you think I’m living in a fantasy, eh? Um, no. I lived in France, and paid taxes that paid for my health care. It was so worth it. It was not more expensive than paying taxes and paying for private health insurance over here. It was actually cheaper in the long run. Plus, everyone else benefited from my taxes when I wasn’t in medical need. In France I was my “brother’s keeper.” Sound familiar? Call that socialist?