Health, Money & Healthcare

Everyone has an agenda. It makes it difficult to parse what is real, what is hyperbole and what is obfuscation. Or maybe I am just dense.

This hit me while reading a commentary in Newsweek on healthcare (http://www.newsweek.com/id/208439 . If anyone cares to enlighten me about this item, please do so.

  • “The notion that the uninsured get little or no care is a myth: they now receive about 50 to 70 percent of the health care of the insured. If they become insured, their health spending would rise toward 100 percent; that would increase both government and private health costs, depending on how the insurance is provided”
    • My question is what 50-70% are they receiving. The uninsured are not receiving annual checkups and preventative care. They receive the high end costs of waiting until the last possible minute to receive care in an emergency room. This late stage care cost exponentially more. It would be much more cost effective to simply cover them upfront. Crestor – even without government negotiating prices with the drug company – is a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for care after cardiac arrest.

Much of what the article points out is true the plans being proposed don’t add up, yet none of them are set. Healthcare spending is out of control. It points out that it is a very hard sell and simply a difficult problem to solve. The article also lists a series of things that “might” happen if healthcare reform passes – all the fears. The fears play better than the possibilities. I actually favor a national system and it scares me too.

Still, as we talk about the costs of reform, we should also talk about the costs of no reform. How much does it costs businesses to provide healthcare? How much is it a drag on the business sector? How much do those late stage costs at the emergency room cost compared with the costs of preventative care?

Then you have the current system. You have those with no coverage, true, but you also have a very broad spectrum of coverages. How many of us covered are really covered effectively? Do insurance companies really look out for the insured’s interest? I don’t think so. A profit based platform designed to provide healthcare seems counterintuitive. On a small scale, take the insurance meeting at my husband’s office. They were told that their claims would always be denied the first time and they should just resubmit them. Are you serious? It seems it would be very easy to eliminate that kind of waste. On a more serious scale you have the case of the girl you died because her transplant was denied by her insurer. People took the streets to protest, they finally approved and she died shortly after. That is certainly a rare occurrence, but not an isolated case. The first order of business is to deny coverage of anything costly or find some way to deny or revoke coverage. A good business model, but it doesn’t serve the purpose of anyone’s health.

I don’t have the answers, but I am certain that we can do better than we are currently doing. Government healthcare has been demonized for so long that it is hard to embrace it. Still, it makes more sense than the patchwork, for-profit thing that we have now.


2 Responses to “Health, Money & Healthcare”

  1. 1 N2Blues
    August 6, 2009 at 10:04 am

    I am no expert on this in any shape, form or fashion. I’m just some schmo with an opinion.

    I think the 50 to 70 that is mentioned is added in by health care givers. It is like shoplifting adds ‘x’ percent to the cost of goods. The hospitals know that there will be losses and no-pays, therefore the are forced to cover the losses by raising prices.

    The argument does not acknowledge that if everyone was a guaranteed to pay, then the cost of goods sold should drop significantly. There would be no need to build in shrinkage costs.

    I agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in preventative health care. That’s why semi-annual dental checkups and cleanings are free (at least w/ my insurance).

    I also agree with your concerns. They are well founded. The entire healthcare system has grown into a huge money making scheme. There is not concern over the costs, because that is all passed along to the end users. If the hospital charges outrageously for plastic gloves or the insurance company raises your rates then no one really cares. They don’t have to worry about costs – you do.

    Because there is so much money to be made, I believe that is why it has become less than upstanding, to put it mildly. Regulation is necessary because there is no incentive for them to regulate themselves. They haven’t done it yet.

  2. 2 jon
    August 7, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Agreed and agreed. And if I can add a few more stats, American automobiles would cost 4K less if the manufacturers weren’t paying for their employee’s insurance. So I am paying more for insurance when I buy a car!

    Also, while we all discuss how much we pay, let’s not forget that an estimated 46 million Americans have no health insurance. Zip. Nada. Zilch. When the bird flu scare (I know, it really is serious) hit, the fears were based on the fact that so many 3rd world people died. As it turns out, they likely died because they waited until they were at death’s door before getting attention because…yep, you guessed it…they had NO HEALTH INSURANCE!

    One thing we can hopefully all agree on is that we cannot go on like this.

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