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Archive for the ‘Health Insurance’ Category

Health Insurance Conflict of Interest

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Mahablog has an excellent post about the conflict of interest that drives health insurance companies to rescind benefits to their policy holders.

The must-read new story today is by Lisa Girion of the Los Angeles Times. In “Health insurers refuse to limit rescission of coverage,” we find the clearest case yet why the private health care industry will never, ever, not in a million years, come even close to solving the health care crisis.

In a nutshell — yesterday three big insurance company executives — WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. — told the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that their business models depended on being able to cancel the health insurance policies of customers who cost them too much money. An investigation by the Committee had found that over a five-year period, these companies had canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people in order to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims.

Also see one of the comments to the Mahablog post from Bill H.

There was a thing on (I think) ABC News about a guy in Canada who had to wait a year to get a hip replacement. After that wait he got the hip replaced at no cost to him. He went on with his life with a new hip and no bills to pay.

In the US there would be two groups. One group would get the hip replaced without a wait. In this group there would be many who would wind up losing their home because the hospital would sue them for unpaid bills. Those people would be living (with their nice new hips) on the street. The second group would never get the hip replaced at all because they could not pay for it. People in that group would live the rest of their lives in the pain that the Canadian guy suffered for just one year.

Eggzackly to both the post and the comment. I reluctantly support the public option nly because the Democrats have blocked single payer for now. But the soner we get the health insurance companies out of health insurance, the better off we all will be.

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June 20th, 2009 at 11:09 am

Washington Spring? Part I

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“Progressive solutions are becoming inevitable” I wrote last night. Ha ha. Silly moi. Nothing is inevitable in politics and culture. But trends are real and can last a long, long time.

Like the trend to the right in the U.S. over the last 40 years or so. That’s a pretty long lasting trend, and when Bush wsa reelected in ’04, while retaing majorities in both houses of Congress, it seemed almost permanent.

But sharp eyed observers (like me) have long been aware that the fundamental problems plaguing the U.S. have been allowed to fester with only token efforts made to address them (rarely, inconsistently only when Democrats are in power). The list includes but is certainly not limited to matters such as:

  • Access to health care
  • Energy
  • Unequally distributed wealth and power
  • Trade deficits
  • Fiscal deficits
  • Crappy schools
  • Third world neighbourhoods
  • Climate change
  • The highest incarceration and execution rate in the world
  • Wars that are too frequent and worse than costly

Some of these by themselves can destroy this or any nation, but taken together, they are certainly deadly.  And they have been ignored.

Oh, the right has policy fixes for some of these, but the biggest reason the Republicans lost the Congress and stand a good chance of losing the White House is because they have done such a lousy job of responding to problems like those listed above.

And so I sense a williingness on the part of the American electorate and population to try something different.  People know,  for example, that the way the nation uses energy has to change. They know that individual behaviour will need to change, but they also know that collective action will be required. And finally, they know that change must come because of both environmental and economic reasons.

More tomorrow, boys and girls.

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January 25th, 2007 at 1:12 am

Bush Blues

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I read somewhere (online of course) that the last week of January haas been deemed by some social scientist or other as the most depressing week of the year. This past Monday is the true nadir of the year, per this theory, backed by who knows how much and what kind of research.

I must say that I feel it too. Not that I’m depressed, but I’m not doing cartwheels either. It’s a kind of boredome that afflicts me. And now I have suffered, with the other 300 million residents of the U.S., the latest State of the Union expectoration from president Bush.

I won’t analyze it here, because as far as a proposed direction for the country,  it is dead, kaput, pinin’ for the fjords. Nothing new about Iraq, of course, and yet nothing else really matters.  The policy proposal that struck me the most was a feeble nod i the direction of universal health insurance. Read his lips, no new taxes, but Bush pretends that tax deductions – not even tax credits – will make a dent in the problem of 4o million or so uninsured. Well, it won’t. As Mr. Duncan Atrios suggests:

You could just sign everyone up and pay for it out of taxes one way or another. I’m flexible about how exactly it’s implemented after that, but the biggest absurdity in all of these plans it that you have to add additional complexity to the tax code, and a ridiculous additional layer of adminstration/bureaucracy. If you want everyone to sign up, don’t “mandate” that they “buy in” to the program. Just, you know, sign them up and take it from their paycheck. If they don’t have a paycheck, they’re still signed up.

Yeah, that’s the way you do it. Sorta like Canada.

I am cheered somewhat by the fact that the need for a universal heath care/insurance program is now accepted by even the flatulent gas bags on the cable news programs. Except for Fox. The point is, that health care is a problem that this and all previous administrations have failed to deal with,  but which they can no longer ignore.

Even more joyful is the sense I have that politics have changed,  and that progressive solutions are becoming inevitable.

Must sleep now, but I will try to develop these thoughts tomorrow.

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January 24th, 2007 at 1:10 am

Where Have You Gone Henry Ford?

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Where Have You Gone Henry Ford?  Our nation turns its increasingly impoverished eyes to you.

If anyone thinks the upward transfer of wealth is just the product of the rational working of the market place, I have these magic beans they might be interested in purchasing. For everybody else, I would argue that Bush administration policies and tax cuts have a lot to do with the rich getting richer and the poor and middle class…well, you know.

So what do we have now? More poverty, more working people without health insurance, less  purchasing power.

Henry Ford among the first big employers who paid his workers a bit more than a living wage. Did he do so out of generosity. Of course not. After all, he hired goons to make sure unions didn’t get their foot in the door at Ford Motor Company. Rather, he wanted Ford workers to be able to buy the cars they were producing.

Capital today does not seem to see the neccessity of maintaining a domestic market. As a result, one day the trade deficit will strangle the American economy. The rich will then retreat to walled , rather than merely gated, communities, the better to defend themselves against the middle class homeless.
Aint it funny how as India becomes the world’s office, the United States becomes the worlds source of cheap labour?

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August 30th, 2006 at 4:10 pm

Mike Scares the Crap Out of Big Pharma et al

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My close personal friend Buzzflash alerted me to a story in Advertising Age about the upcoming Mike Moore muckraker Sicko. Apparently, the pharmaceuticals and HMOs are stating to squirm and soil their undies in anticipation of the next Mike attack.

“A review of America’s health-care system should be balanced, thoughtful and well-researched to pin down what works and what needs to be improved,” said Ken Johnson, senior VP for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “You won’t get that from Michael Moore.”

Added a spokesman for one of the top 10 pharma companies: “We expect it will be one-sided and biased, just like his other documentaries.”

Poor dears. They may just have to put more ads on tv (and pass the cost along to you, the patient/consumer).I have long been convinced that the most important domestic issue facing the U.S. is health care, especially access to health care.

  • 45 or 47 million people (the number seems to vary from report to report) are without health insurance here.
  • People without health insurance are often treated in hospital emergency rooms, the most expensive way to deliver treatment.
  • A serious health problem can drive a family into bankruptcy.
  • Employers are at a competitive disadvantage relative to their overseas competitors because of the high and rising cost of health insurance.
  • New drugs are priced far beyond the costs of development and production.
  • The medical industries are growing richer as wealth is transferred to them from the poor and middle class.

All of these points are as true today as they were ten years ago, and there seems to be no political effort aimed at resolving any of them.

I remember when Farenheit 911 came out and there was a lot of buzz about how this one movie would ensure the defeat of W in his reelection bid. Didn’t happen. But watch that movie now. How much of it that seemed controversial two years ago is conventional wisdom today?  Maybe that change in public attitudes about Bush and Iraq will result in a power shift in November. Maybe not. But there seems to be a growing debate about things that the Republicans would rather not talk about. Here’s hoping there are at least some Democrats who do.

I have not seen Sicko and so am in no position to analyze it (which wouldn’t stop me if I were Sean, Rush or Billo).  But I am looking forward to seeing it and if I were a drug company or a health insurer, I would be mainlining antacids and changing my underwear hourly.

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August 23rd, 2006 at 3:14 pm

Bubye Joe

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Congrats to St. Ned Lamont, slayer of the Lieberman dragon. And congrats to the Democrats in Connecticut for showing the nation how to act democratically.

I toggled between TDS and the Lamont victory speech and I was tickled pink to hear him put health care at the top of his Senate agenda. The health insurance mess in this country is a crisis that exists below media radar, but I consider it to be the issue that most urgently needs attention and receives none from either of the two parties that are allowed to compete in elections.

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August 8th, 2006 at 11:22 pm