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Thread: Our crazy health insurance system

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    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    Default Our crazy health insurance system

    Our Crazy Health-Insurance System

    Opinion Editorial by John Stossel - Sep 27, 2007
    23 ratings from readers


    What options do we have for improving America's health care system? The problem isn't that millions of Americans have no health insurance. It's that 250 million do have it.




    Almost daily, we’re bombarded with apocalyptic warnings about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance. Sen. Hillary Clinton wants to require everyone to have it, big companies to pay for it and government to buy it for the poor.


    That is a move in the wrong direction.


    America’s health-care problem is not that some people lack insurance — it’s that 250 million Americans do have it.


    You have to understand something right from the start. We Americans got hooked on health insurance because the government did the insurance companies a favor during World War II. Wartime wage controls prohibited cash raises, so employers started giving noncash benefits, like health insurance, to attract workers.


    The tax code helped this along by treating employer-based health insurance more favorably than coverage you buy yourself. And state governments have made things worse by mandating coverage many people would never buy for themselves.


    Competition also pushed companies to offer ever-more attractive policies, such as first-dollar coverage for routine ailments, like ear infections and colds, and coverage for things that are not even illnesses, like pregnancy. We came to expect insurance to cover everything.


    That’s the root of our problem. No one wants to pay for his own medical care. “Let the insurance company pay for it.” But if companies pay, they will demand a say in what treatment is — and is not — permitted. Who can blame them?


    And who can blame people for feeling frustrated that they aren’t in control of their medical care? Maybe we need to rethink how we pay for less-than-catastrophic illnesses so people can regain control. The system creates perverse incentives for everyone. Government mandates are good at doing things like that.


    Steering people to buy lots of health insurance is bad policy. Insurance is a necessary evil. We need it to protect us from the big risks — things most of us can’t afford to pay for, like a serious illness, a major car accident, or a house fire.


    But insurance is a lousy way to pay for things. Your premiums go not just to pay for medical care but also for fraud, paperwork and insurance-company employee salaries. This is bad for you and bad for doctors.


    The average American doctor now spends 14 percent of his income on insurance paperwork. A North Carolina doctor we interviewed had to hire four people just to fill out forms. He wishes he could spend that money on caring for patients.


    The paperwork is part of insurance companies’ attempt to protect themselves against fraud. That’s understandable. Many people docheat. They lie about their history or demand money for unnecessary care or care that never even happened.


    So there is a lot of waste in insurance — lost money and time.


    Imagine if your car insurance covered oil changes and gasoline. You wouldn’t care how much gas you used, and you wouldn’t care what it cost. Mechanics would sell you $100 oil changes. Prices would skyrocket.


    That’s how it works in health care. Patients don’t ask how much a test or treatment will cost. They ask if their insurance covers it. They don’t compare prices from different doctors and hospitals. (Prices do vary.) Why should they? They’re not paying. (Although they do in hidden, indirect ways.)


    In the end, we all pay more because no one seems to pay anything. It’s why health insurance is not a good idea for anything but serious illnesses and accidents that could bankrupt you. For the rest, we should pay out of our savings.


    Next week, we’ll look at alternatives to this crazy system.




    John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News’ “20/20” and the author ofGive Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media (January 2005) as well as Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel — Why Everything You Know Is Wrong(May 2007)
    http://www.theatlasphere.com/columns...-insurance.php

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    ....orrrrrrr instead of funding 3 trillion dollar wars and spending hundreds of billions on shiny new tanks and airplanes, you could redirect some of the MASSIVE FUCKING GDP AMERICA ENJOYS to something that would help all.. a federal universal health system.

    It's nice that John Stossel has lots of money to throw around at even ROUTINE sicknesses that, without insurance, run into the hundreds and thousands of dollars in medication and hospital costs. A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T HAVE THAT RESOURCE.

    That's the fucking point, you blithering idiot!

    gawd!
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    Here's a funny about my insurance coverage; so my employer pays god knows what each month to AETNA and I decide I want to start taking birth control pills again... get prescription and go to pharmacy; AETNA says I have to pay a $45 name brand copay and I can only get one pack at a time; the pills cost $47 and some change without insurance... WTF!?!?! When I took the pill 5 years ago it was standard that you got three packs; when the fuck did that change? When I had a prudential HMO the copay for name brand bc was $10 and their pharmacy had a deal with ortho that each pack was $12 with or without insurance; very nice.
    Employer paid insurance is a joke when a majority of people can
    barely afford to use it.
    John Stossel is an ass and I refer to him as an odd Bill O'Reilly lite.

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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    That man looks like Tom Selleck on crack.

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    Hit By Ban Bus!
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    John Stossel used to be somewhatdecent, but he went to the dark side. More money in it.

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    Elite Member crumpet's Avatar
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    He's a libertarian so I can relate to a lot of his views, though we have disagreements. Some points he makes are valid whehter people like it or not.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    His main point is still negated by the fact that, again for lots o people, sometimes a 5000 bill is beyond what they can pay.

    I know it would be for me, and I'm gainfully employed.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    I grew up watching 20/20 and listening to his things and he used to make sense; Stossel is an ass and I don't care what political label he gives himself.

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    Elite Member crumpet's Avatar
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    From past experience we could all probably just cut and paste our responses in previous threads about insurance.

    Yep, a $5,000 would seem huge to me,too, and I make good money and have insurance. It just comes to mind that so many people have no problem coughing up ungodly amounts of money for all the latest kindercrap, SUVs, and keeping up with the Joneses in general but have a coronary when asked to pay for healthcare costs(which are inflated, I know). People say they need both incomes to make ends meet but really they are living beyond their means to start with, but no one wants to admit that. I don't know it it's denial or if people have really been duped into thinking they neeeed cable/DirecTv, 3 home computers, plasma tv, and Doonebury Burke handbags. People gawk at a $5000 medical bill yet look what they've spent on nights out at the pub or on ciggs for one year and add that up. If we all looked around (myself included) at the superfluous stuff we have spent money on we would be amazed at how much really gets thrown away on useless or unnecessary stuff.

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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    I know! We throw away so much on useless stuff like weapons and war and what not...

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    Elite Member nwgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crumpet View Post
    From past experience we could all probably just cut and paste our responses in previous threads about insurance.

    Yep, a $5,000 would seem huge to me,too, and I make good money and have insurance. It just comes to mind that so many people have no problem coughing up ungodly amounts of money for all the latest kindercrap, SUVs, and keeping up with the Joneses in general but have a coronary when asked to pay for healthcare costs(which are inflated, I know). People say they need both incomes to make ends meet but really they are living beyond their means to start with, but no one wants to admit that. I don't know it it's denial or if people have really been duped into thinking they neeeed cable/DirecTv, 3 home computers, plasma tv, and Doonebury Burke handbags. People gawk at a $5000 medical bill yet look what they've spent on nights out at the pub or on ciggs for one year and add that up. If we all looked around (myself included) at the superfluous stuff we have spent money on we would be amazed at how much really gets thrown away on useless or unnecessary stuff.
    ITA. I don't know how many people I know who say this exact stuff but choose not to see the truth about their situations in life. Same with time-stressed people. Lots of time spent sitting on the couch watching TV, but you can't quite find the time to clean the house. OK. Yeah right. I think it must be denial.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."

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    Elite Member crumpet's Avatar
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    ^^^^A lot of it is not wanting to sacrifice our wants to finance our needs or to contribute towards savings. I am guilty of it,too.

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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    People gawk at a $5000 medical bill yet look what they've spent on nights out at the pub or on ciggs for one year and add that up. If we all looked around (myself included) at the superfluous stuff we have spent money on we would be amazed at how much really gets thrown away on useless or unnecessary stuff.
    This is true often enough, but what about when it's not? I don't smoke, rarely go out, buy thrift store clothes, and don't even have a TV, much less Digital or High-Def. Our car is 17 years old, inherited from an uncle. We have a small semi-detached house, and keep our bills low. We make a decent living, just choose to live below our means. But that doesn't mean we have 5 or 10 grand to drop on a medical bill. It's fine to say that people should really be saving for emergencies, but saving does take time - as a twenty-something still in University, there's only so much saving I could have reasonably done by now, yet there's nothing preventing me from getting hit with a medical bill for the same 20 grand that an older, more established person might (except living in Canada... muahahaha).

    Stossel's analogy to cars is interesting, but twisted - the costs aren't comparable. A bill for surgery would be more along the lines of the price of a new car, not a tune-up. Prescriptions, eyeglasses - these are more comparable to the prices of car servicing, and I actually don't necessarily oppose having the "customer" pay for those things. But some medical bills are just beyond the scope of the average person.

    I do think he has a point though, that a lot of the prices for medical expenses would drop in a more customer-driven system, so it may be that we're not really talking about 5-10-20 grand here. But I doubt they would drop all that much, and certainly not right away. I think he's oversimplifying the issue somewhat, and seems to assume that a few grand here or there is just nothing, when for most of us that's not the case.

    I may be able to afford the occasional bill like that, but I certainly couldn't save much on top of it. And people/families with no savings or money to toss into the market is horrendous for the economy in its own way. A little bit of spending and investing is healthy for the market - does Stossel really think it's a good idea that everyone work and scrimp and save just to pay medical expenses? Economically, it's not.
    If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

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    Elite Member Mr. Authority's Avatar
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    I do think he has a point though, that a lot of the prices for medical expenses would drop in a more customer-driven system, so it may be that we're not really talking about 5-10-20 grand here. But I doubt they would drop all that much, and certainly not right away. I think he's oversimplifying the issue somewhat, and seems to assume that a few grand here or there is just nothing, when for most of us that's not the case.
    That's the problem though. We should'nt be treated like customers when it comes to health insurance. Were patients, not clients or cosumers or whatever. Having to pay for medical bills in this day and age is seriously a crime to the working poor and middle class; it's gotten to the point that people have to avoid getting sick to not pay any medical bills whether insured or not.

    Grimm's right, the GDP should go into establishing a universal healthcare system that covers everyone. Not insurance, healthcare. Thing is we still have the politicians and right-wingers stopping it from happening to protect "capitalism". What do we do about that?

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    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetie View Post
    That man looks like Tom Selleck on crack.

    IT LOOKS LIKE THE PHOTO IS GONE NOW!!

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