Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Yet Another Snarky Question About Health Care

Yesterday I offered a tongue-in-cheek satirical post that provided answers to frequently asked questions about health care reform. The topic of health care is, of course, a serious one on which reasonable people (if you can find any nowadays) can disagree. Back on March 29th, I wrote a post titled Health Care Reform Yardstick in which I asked a few questions that nobody working the issues of health care reform appeared to be answering...or even considering. A week before that, on March 21st, I asked some other Questions About Health Care. If you want to go back and read those again, go ahead...I'll wait.


At the risk of sounding like a one-note trumpet, I still have all the same questions, and have so far amassed exactly NO answers. I even have a new one:

The "public option," which I understand to mean a single-payer, government-run national health-care insurance system, has been savagely vilified by many commentators whose arguments seem to boil down to one thing: I don't want any #$@%! government bureaucrat making decisions about my health care!

Well, here's a news flash for those of you who have been mindlessly parroting that old bromide: bureaucrats are already making decisions about your health care. The only difference is that they work for insurance companies, and not for the government. Remember, if you will, that insurance companies are profit-driven businesses...delivering health care insurance is their way of making money for their shareholders.

So riddle me this, Batman: is it worse to have decisions about your health care made by a government bureaucrat who (at least in theory) is a public servant not motivated by maximizing profits while minimizing costs, or by an insurance company worker whose livelihood depends on maximizing profits while minimizing costs?

I'm just asking the question...not advocating a position.

I was thinking about this because I recently received a letter from my insurance company titled: "Status of your out-of-pocket maximum." This letter told me that, as of May 29th, I had completed 0.71% of my annual out-of-pocket maximum, while Agnes had completed 0.00%. It went on to say that "Th(is) information is intended to help you understand and manage your health care spending."

So, what does this actually mean and how does it help me "understand and manage my health care spending?" If I get sick, I'm going to the doctor. If I have a painful toothache, I'm going to the dentist. What's to "understand and manage?" And what happens when I reach the (very large) "out of pocket maximum?" Does the insurance company start paying 100%? I don't think so.

No answers today, just more questions.

I've given up on getting the answers.

Have a good day. Stay can't afford not to.

More thoughts tomorrow.



Alex said...

Sadly, I think it means that you've got 99.29% to go before they cover everything.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

What I'm finding out is if you are older like my parents, the government is not covering certain meds, therefore thee insurance companies are following suit. In the last few months my mom and dad have had to change 3 of their medications because of something the government did. Pills that had been covered for years!!!

I'm really disappointed in what I'm seeing right now, when I was really excited for people before.

Me, I'm still paying too much and getting too little covered

Leslie said...

These people who don't want goverhment bureaucrats making their health care decisions don't realize that real death panels exist--they're called the insurance company.

Anonymous said...

The big deal is if you have a conflict with a private insurance company they can't put you in jail. A government bureaucrat has access to ultimate sanctions that private industry doesn't. If you are required by law to buy government insurance and you don't, you WILL go to jail. And guess who has all the power in an honest dispute.

Eminence Grise

Bilbo said...

Ah, Eminence...I should have known you would zero in on the mandatory insurance thing. I strongly disagree with that, as it happens - I don't think government at any level has the power to force people to have health insurance. That's stupid. And it's not the same as having a single-payer system as an alternative to commercial insurance. I don't know if one is better than the other or not...that's why I'm not advocating one or the other. But I do know that there has been no significant, rational discussion of the pros and cons of each. You can get screwed by a federal agency just as well as you can by a private company, and there will be corruption and venality no matter which way we go. But I think an honest discussion of all the alternatives is not a bad thing.

Mike said...

@EG - But if you go to jail at least you'll have health care.

Wv: astor - What you get on April 15th.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Beaurocrats have been making decisions for us for years in Britain with the NHS and it still isn't right.