Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's time to put the health insurance industry out of business (and us out of our misery)

Why? The story of a Los Angeles woman who is facing a 58% increase in her insurance premium from Blue Shield, related by David Lazarus in today's Los Angeles Times, provides plenty of reasons. And what better time than when the U.S. economy is undergoing a major restructuring anyway? Let's take all the premiums Americans and their employers are paying to the profit-making health insurance industry, average it all out so that risk and cost is shared by everyone equally, and create a public plan just like the ones that nearly every other civilized industrialized nation on the planet has managed to put together. And don't be surprised if such a plan turns out to be cheaper and more efficient--especially since the overhead created by the legions of health insurance employees whose only job seems to be to figure out how to deny benefits to policyholders will be eliminated.

At the least, let such a program compete with the medical profiteers. And those profiteers include the members of the American Medical Association, which wants to preclude any sort of public plan without at the same time putting strict controls on the private health industry. We need a new generation of doctors whose primary motivation is public service and not getting rich; we could start by subsidizing their medical education so they won't be stuck with big fat loans and a big fat sense of entitlement.

Photo: Private health insurance, not a pretty picture.

PS--I assume many readers saw this article which explains a lot about why the battle for comprehensive health care is an uphill one. Briefly, our politicians are on the take.

Follow the money. I don't do PR for the Times, but they are increasingly the paper of record these days as all around them fold and die. Anyway, this piece about the financial interests of health care players from insurance companies to doctors, entitled "Following the Money," does everything necessary except ask why we should be catering to the elite special interests who profit off of the health care needs of hundreds of millions of people. If they are pulling the strings, that's the first thing that needs to be changed. We shall see whether the Obama administration has the guts to do it (so far the answer is no.) And the stakes are high for the health industry profiteers: Once a public plan is in place, it is the beginning of the end for them, except perhaps the kind of specialty markets (top up insurance, special medical procedures, etc.) that are permitted even in countries with national health plans.

Nonprofit investigative journalism gets a boost. From the Associated Press, according to this New York Times item. That could be good news for everyone, or at least everyone who wants to be well informed (I realize that's not everyone these days.)

Yoo and you. Let's hope a judge's decision to let Joseph Padilla's lawsuit against John Yoo go forward, for setting in motion the chain of events that got Padilla tortured, is a sign of a slippery slope to come for the torture lobby.

1 comment:

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Thanks for the post..