Leave Healthcare Reform Alone
Private Insurance's Profit Machine
Private Health Care is a bad option
There was a great article in the Los Angeles Times yesterday about private insurance. The author, Michael Hiltzik, points out that over the past 15 years private insurance companies have:
- Taken billions of dollars out of the national health care purse as profit.
- Impose staggering administrative costs on doctors, hospitals, employers, and patients.
- Caused doctors to have to fight for the correct treatment for their patients on a daily basis.
- Caused hospitals to have to fight for every penny they get while you are in their care.
- Caused you and those same hospitals to have to fight to get their bills paid.
He goes on to point out that in 1993 these same companies said that they would fight for reform and then went on to do whatever it took to kill every reform bill brought before Congress. He also said that Well Point and United Health Group bought 11 other insurers between 2000-2007 and these two behemoths now control 67 million insured lives. This same industry, he says, is a strong backer of those Blue Dog Democrats to the tune of 1.2 million dollars.
So, for those of you who are staunch advocates of private insurance, what is so good about this? The fact is that only 20% of people ever have to deal with their insurance companies. So, the other 80% of Americans report that they are “satisfied with their coverage.” However, ask anyone who has had a serious or strange illness what happens and the story changes. People are often faced with long delays in care because insurers fight over everything because they make an honest mistake on an application.
Recently, during a subcommittee meeting in the house according to the American Life radio program, Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan (watch video here) is asking an executive of a health insurance to go through the application for health coverage. Don Hamm, the executive could not even figure out some the items on the form. For instance, Mr. Stupak, asks Mr. Hamm one of the questions on this application and ask him what is TIA. The congressman goes on to ask if he does not understand the question how can a typical applicant?
How many Americans know what rescission is? Rescission is when the health insurance company can deny you insurance because you made and honest mistake on a application. This happened to one woman who was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. Her name is Robin Beaton (watch video) and she worked in health care as a nurse for years. In June 2008, she was diagnosed with a cancer and needed a double mastectomy immediately. The Friday before she was to have surgery, Blue Cross and Blue Shield called her and told her that her policy was red flagged. The reason: she had been treated for acne before and the company thought that this was part of a pre-existing cancerous condition. Her dermatologist begged and said that she was treated for simple acne, but Blue Cross went on to deny her claim anyway.
She was left in a bind and the hospital now wanted a $30,000 deposit before they would begin the surgery. It took months for her to get the situation cleared up and during that time her tumor doubled in size. Her testimony was so dramatic that the committee had to take a break to compose themselves. According to Beaton, she attends a cancer support group where four of her peers have had their insurance cancelled.
She says she lives in fear of her insurance company because they can cancel her insurance at anytime. One congressman asked the executives “Does it bother you that someone is going to die because of these policies…?” The insurance companies said yes it does bother them, however, at least 19,700 policies were rescinded in a three year period by insurance companies.
The question to those of you who believe in this idea that single-payer option is wrong, can you please tell me why private insurance is so much better without using the traditional rhetoric of the right? Why are the applications so difficult to understand? Why do people who pay their insurance for years all of a sudden end up without it when they have serious illnesses? Why do you support a monopoly that controls the lives of those Americans who have insurance and denies coverage to those without? I am waiting for your answers.
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