Let’s move beyond corporate health care

I was in full agreement with the president during his health-care speech a few weeks ago until he got to the part when he said he didn’t want to put the insurance companies out of business.

Why not? They’ve been working to put us — individually and collectively — out of business for decades. Let some of these quasi Ponzi-schemers collect unemployment or stand in a soup line for a while. It’ll be cheaper in the long run.

Oddly, I find most people who are against some sort of public health system to be the same folks who already enjoy the benefits of the best socialized medicine programs in the world: Medicare, VA benefits, PERA, etc. Why shouldn’t the rest of us have the opportunity to buy into plans like these?

Here’s a little story for you . . . I carry what is known as “major medical” coverage with a $5,000 deductible for myself and my son. Besides being the type of coverage many of my doctor friends carry and recommend, it’s also what I can afford. Plus, I figure why give the insurance companies a lot of money when they are likely to deny any claim I have anyway. (“We’re sorry, Mr. Walter, we didn’t know that you  . . . [fill in the blank: race pack burros, formerly worked in the newspaper business, ride saddle donkeys, run long distances, work around cattle, live in the same ecosystem with rattlesnakes, bears and mountain lions, have a rat terrier dog, drink water, breathe air, whatever]. We can’t possibly pay for your medical expenses. Perhaps the hospital would consider your home in partial trade for the amount due.”)

Or, just fill in a blank with “autism” and see what happens.

About a year-and-a-half ago we took Harrison to The Children’s Hospital in Denver to be tested for autism. The doctor told us right then and there he has autism, and we got out a credit card to pay for this testing ourselves, which is what we had intended to do from the very beginning without involving the insurance company.

A few weeks later we received via certified mail what amounted to an extortion letter from our insurance company alledging we had withheld a pre-existing condition — autism — when we signed up for our plan. The only remedy was a higher rate.

Huh? Check out the logic here. If we had known he had autism, then we would not be paying $2,500 out of our own pockets to find out he had it.

These greedheads aren’t just contemptible, they’re idiots.

Plus, here’s something else for you to think about. Why does my autistic son not deserve to have as good and as affordable coverage as anyone else? If anything, he should have better.

A new study published by the medical journal Pediatrics has found that autism is even more prevalent than previously believed. If this study is accurate, one in 92 children now have been diagnosed with autism, which translates to about 673,000 children in the United States.

And you were worried about the flu.

Like the flu, statistics for autism also are compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, but is this condition really a disease? Can it be controlled? We don’t really know what it is or what causes it. We don’t know why some children are more affected than others. We don’t know why some apparently snap out of it at a certain age, while in others the problem progresses. We don’t know of any definitive treatment.

We really don’t know squat about autism, but we do know this: It’s a growing health-care issue and insurance companies don’t want to pay for it. Yet another reason we need to move beyond the corporate-greed model of health care and on to what we have already proven works — some sort of public health-care system.

13 thoughts on “Let’s move beyond corporate health care

  1. Hal,

    You make so many wonderful points about the greed of the insurance companies and the mysteries of Autism and how everyone should be entitled to quality health care thanks for writing this enlightening article I am going to recommend this article to several of my friends.

  2. Hal,
    Great article! When did health care become a partisan issue? It is not a republican thing or a democratic thing, it is the right thing. In a recent article in a Denver magazine a doctor states they do not get paid to make people healthy, drug companies reward them for using their product.
    I pay $3,000 dollars a year for health coverage; my employer pays $12,000, a total of $15,000! On top of that I pay
    co- payments for office visits, prescriptions, etc. My wife and I are getting older and tend to have to see the doctor more. The insurance plan has nurses/plan reps that call you to encourage you to avoid seeing the doctor by going to the website and treating yourself.
    I see the Doctor two, three times a year, my wife more because of breast cancer (she also has insurance through her employer).

    Last year, not including what I pay the insurance company, I paid an additional $5,600 out of pocket for co-payments and items not covered under my plan. While my wife and I have good jobs and our two sons no longer live at home, I wonder how are those who do not have the benefits (when did basic health care become a luxury/benefit?) we have, or make the salaries that my wife and I make, afford any of this. The system need to be overhauled. Lets hope sooner then later!

  3. T.R. Reid has made the point that health care is not a partisan issue or an economic issue. It’s a moral issue. Only the countries that have come to that conclusion, and approached the issue from this position, have solved this problem.

  4. I haven’t heard anyone write about the causes of the rapid increase in health care costs.

    1. Malpractice insurance costs doctors roughly 50% of their revenues. This is due to our tort system encouraging lawsuits as a form of lotto, but we all are paying for the insurance that doctors must have.

    2. Limited competition. Insurance companies are limited on a state by state basis. Get rid of that limitations and you can choose a company that treats you better. Choice is always good.

    There are bad people we run into in life, and there are also bad companies we deal with. Choose your company well, and if you make a mistake sometime, change your company, but don’t throw out the whole system.

    The countries that have nationalized health care suffer with even higher costs, poor access, and poor care. Cancer death rates in these countries are higher than in the USA free market care. Also, health research will slow down dramatically as funding sources dry up. Also, these other countries have benefited from the fabulous advances in health care made here.

    Is our system perfect? NO! Can it be improved? YES! Can the problems it has be fixed? ABSOLUTELY!

    Collectivist state-ism is the result of government health care and you won’t like it. Your liberty will be gone.

    By the way, who is T.R. Reid?

  5. Dave, According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the health-care system (doctors, hospitals, etc.) constitute the third leading cause of death in this country, behind cancer and heart disease. Are you saying doctors should not be accountable, or that they should not be eligible for malpractice insurance? You should find out who T.R. Reid is. He’s thoroughly explored and written about other countries’ health care systems and knows more than the conservative mainstream media on the subject.

  6. Doctors should always be held accountable, but the lotto mentality of most lawsuits has to stop. It is bankrupting all businesses, but specifically the medical industry. Simple tort reform is all that is needed. Place some limits on awards, specifically pain and suffering awards. Limit the contingency fees attorneys can charge. Simple and effective.

    Do you think that doctors and hospitals will get better under a government plan? If so, you’d better think again. And what does the conservative media have to do with anything? Are you implying I only repeat a mantra?

    I am informed, buy $550,000 worth of health care for my employees each year. I see the system up close.

    I’m sure we can all agree we need change. The 1 trillion dollar question is how we do it and how much more it will cost. The free market almost always works best. I am constantly surprised by yours and others lack of faith in free enterprise.

  7. Dave, When in doubt, blame the lawyers . . .

    In this country we don’t trust anything we take seriously to the so-called “free-enterprise” system, which is a myth anyway — we don’t have any sort of free-enterprise system. Or is this the same “free-enterprize” system that ran amuck without any regulation and then needed bailouts for the banking industry and automobile manufacturers. If we had free enterprise, instead of “enterprize,” those businesses would have driven themselves to extinction.

    Additionally, we don’t trust the private sector to provide military, police and fire protection, management of public lands and resources, airline traffic control, hell, we don’t even leave animal control to private industry.

    So why would we leave health care to private industry, especially since it has so badly failed us.

    I’m no businessman, but wouldn’t it be better for your business if instead of paying $550,000 a year for health care for your employees you paid nothing? This is how it is in most civilized countries (by the way, the last time I checked the U.S. ranked right in there with Cuba in health care), and even in some uncivilized coutries like the United Kingdom.

    Yes, it does sound like a bit of a matra, Dave. The same one we’ve been hearing since the AMA hired a marketing firm back in the age of McCarthyism to come up with the term “socialized medicine.”

    When will we move on to a better system?

  8. It’s clear you are no businessman because there is no such thing as paying nothing for health care. I, more than you, will pay, but pay we all will. And it will be more than now for poorer care.

    I feel sad that you believe the things you do, you will appreciate what you had only when it’s gone.

  9. Dave, you know, we can disagree on this and still be brothers. You do know that, don’t you? I have a difficult time believing I will ever miss paying for what I have, which is basically a joke of a “major medical” policy through a major insurance company. I feel certain that if I ever need anything beyond my deductible, they will do their best to weasel out. For another perspective, rent the movie “Sicko” or read T.R. Reid’s “The Healing of America.”

  10. Well, usually I like your articles but I had to stop reading after you grouped VA Benefits into your litte bundle of programs. George gave 25 years his life to the government/military, protecting our freedoms at home, and deploying to Afghanistan to earn this coverage. Some people pay for their insurance coverage with money, others with their life. I know we don’t agree on this, but I love you as always!

    1. Shelby, Of course I have tremendous respect for George’s and other service people’s service to this country. This isn’t about whether George and your family deserve to have health care for your service. Of course you do. This is about whether the rest of us deserve to have health care. Don’t you think we do? Love, Hal

  11. You’re right, I would feel much better if I knew you and your family had affordable health care instead of high premiums and huge deductables. There just has to be a better way to get there. Love you bunches and bunches… Shelby

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