September 23, 2009

Bloody Healthcare


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We hope you didn't miss Will Ferrell's bleeding heart video about insurance companies who stand to profit handsomely from the Baucus Bill as it stands.

"It's a bonanza," said Robert Laszewski, a health insurance executive for 20 years who now tracks reform legislation as president of the consulting firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates Inc."Hallelujah!"

Ex Cigna PR executive turned consumer advocate, Wendell Potter says about insurance companies:

They don't want a public plan. They want all the uninsured to have to be enrolled in a private insurance plan. They want-- they see those 50 million people as potentially 50 million new customers. So they're in favor of that. They see this as a way to essentially lock them into the system, and ensure their profitability in the future. The strategy is as it was in 1993 and '94, to conduct this charm offensive on the surface. But behind the scenes, to use front groups and third-party advocates and ideological allies. And those on Capitol Hill who are aligned with them, philosophically, to do the dirty work. To demean and scare people about a government-run plan, try to make people not even remember that Medicare, their Medicare program, is a government-run plan that has operated a lot more efficiently.

James Kwak of The Baseline Scenario explains eloquently that no one in the United States has health insurance except for those over 65 who are eligible for Medicare, since most insurance is job-based and there are many ways one can lose one's job-based healthcare. Someone on NPR said the other day that most people were satisfied with their current coverage because 75% of policy holders have never really needed their health insurance.

A recent Harvard study estimates that 45,000 people die annually for lack of health coverage.

Even if you do have health insurance, your claim can be denied. California is the only state that requires that denied health care claims by insurance companies be reported

The state Nurses Association issued a press release saying that data it obtained from the Web site of the state’s Department of Managed Health Care showed that in just the first half of 2009, California’s six largest HMOs had rejected more than 31 million claims -- 21 percent of those they had received.

You might be equally to learn that the only US industries that are not subject towhay are we letting insurance companies get away with this
"> the Sherman Antitrust Act are Major League Baseball and insurance. A full 94 percent of the insurance markets across the nation are not competitive and engaged in price fixing and market allocation. Which brings us to Paul Krugman on the public option

....others understate the extent to which even a public plan with limited bargaining power will help hold down overall costs. Private insurers do pay providers more than Medicare does — but that’s only part of the reason Medicare has lower costs. There’s also the huge overhead of the private insurers, much of which involves marketing and attempts to cherry-pick clients — and even with community rating, some of that will still go on. A public plan would probably be able to attract clients with much less of that.

Second, a public plan would probably provide the only real competition in many markets.

Third — and this is where I am getting a very bad feeling about the idea of throwing in the towel on the public option — is the politics. Remember, to make reform work we have to have an individual mandate. And everything I see says that there will be a major backlash against the idea of forcing people to buy insurance from the existing companies. That backlash was part of what got Obama the nomination! Having the public option offers a defense against that backlash.

Members of congress themselves have a rather lavish plan for which they pay a handsome $503 per year. Of course, Republicans can get behind a public option for pets and property.

It's time for us to wake up and smell the insurance executives and the senators they have purchased - (scroll down for price tags)

Photo note: Heart without healthcare

Addendum: go back and read the Kwak clickie , then you can see more of Potter on Moyers

Posted by Dakota at September 23, 2009 10:35 AM