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Why Universal Health Care

Echidne covers another “water is wet” study on The Cost Of Not Having Health Insurance. The short version is if you don’t have insurance and get sick you will die. I think most people have figured that out.

In some ways the need is made even more obvious by the story of Nataline Sarkisyan, who had insurance through Cigna HealthCare and died today. The Associated Press is now reporting that the Family is suing Cigna, but that won’t stop the company’s denial management specialists from refusing to cover treatment for other policy holders.

To review – if you get sick you will die if you don’t have insurance, or if you have a private insurer who feels it would cost the company too much to cure you, so you need to be wealthy, have standard Medicare, or be an elected official like Dick Cheney to feel confident of receiving adequate health care in the United States.

When someone tries to avoid talking about the facts by saying “do you want government bureaucrats making your medical decisions”, respond by asking how a government bureaucrat could be any worse than a private insurance company’s denial management specialist.


1 Badtux { 12.22.07 at 12:04 am }

Thing to keep in mind here: Health care is not the same thing as insurance. Which is why things like the Governator’s proposal to provide health insurance to all Californians (by threatening them with anal rape if they don’t buy health insurance) simply will not work. It’ll just take money out of my wallet at gunpoint in order to make murderers richer.

I’ve used government-provided health care before, back when Louisiana had a fully functioning charity hospital system that provided guaranteed medical care for all Louisianians. Bureaucrats did not make decisions. Doctors did. Yes, there were long waiting lists for routine procedures, crowded waiting rooms, etc.. But when my brother needed immediate emergency eye surgery, they did it immediately. When I needed a skin graft operation to deal with a severe burn, they did it within three days. No bureaucrats were involved in these decisions. Doctors made these decisions. Doctors who had no financial incentive to overtreat, nor financial incentive to undertreat — they were on staff, paid a flat salary.

Which is how it should be. Which is what the vast majority of Americans want. Which Americans will not get, because we have the best government money can buy, and you and I have much less money and thus can buy much less of the government than the insurance companies can buy.

2 Bryan { 12.22.07 at 12:23 am }

Medicare for everyone – it would be cheaper, more efficient, and provide the opportunity to catch things before they get critical and expensive. I had good coverage when I worked in upstate New York because everyone in the county could buy it at the same rate that Kodak, Xerox, and Delco was paying from Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

It was effectively universal coverage for the entire county because everyone could afford it, even college students received it through their activities fees.

Moving to San Diego was a shock.

Forcing people to buy insurance from a private company just won’t work. That’s the government forcing the company to sell it and the individual to buy it, so no one gets to make a decisions, and you have no guarantees regarding what doctors and hospitals you can use.

More people are going to have to die before anything is done. The current system just doesn’t work.

3 Cookie Jill { 12.22.07 at 1:07 am }

12 Million for CEO salary or a liver transplant for a teenager. Cigna apparently decided it couldn’t afford to pay for one of those.

4 Bryan { 12.22.07 at 1:15 am }

It’s amazing how CEOs get to make disastrous decisions and not just keep their jobs but receive bonuses. That’s something shareholders need to start noticing.

5 Michael { 12.22.07 at 4:28 am }

I agree Bryan, open enrollment Medicare for all, and make it without any premium. Nobody is forced to sign up but it’s free, and all you have to do is request it, or if you don’t have insurance it can be requested on your behalf by your health care provider. What could be easier?

6 Bryan { 12.22.07 at 10:05 am }

It’s not like the system isn’t already in place and the most efficient form of health care payment in the country.

7 Michael { 12.22.07 at 12:26 pm }

The problem is the Democratic candidates seem afraid to propose a plan like this. Somehow they feel they must compromise with Republicans to be elected. I think that’s a mistake.

8 andante { 12.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

I have made it crystal-clear as possible to my family that if I get sick or injured – do nothing. I won’t have my family bankrupted trying to pay medical expenses. We have yer most basic catastrophic policy (I refer to it as our ambulance policy; or more correctly the coroner’s van).

Mr. Andante had a splinter in his thumb, which he removed, but it became infected. A simple lancing & antiseptic at the walk-in clinic cost us over $300 when all was said & done.

We have discontinued our cholesterol meds and cancer screenings. We can’t afford the lab tests, medication, or possible resulting preventative stuff and certainly not any treatments resulting in a diagnosis should something turn up.

Do we NEED comprehensive? You bet. Can we afford it? No way. It gets worse as you get older, with the only consolation is maybe you can live until Medicare kicks in. By then, you’ll cost the system a fortune. But hey, it’s just taxpayer money, right?

If I’m not mistaken, there IS a premium for Medicare part B, which is the comprehensive, but it’s quite miniscule normally. I think my mother’s premium is withheld from her DoD survivor’s pension. Not familiar (or can’t remember) with part A or how it affects Social Security benefits, if at all. I welcome being edgy-cated.

9 Bryan { 12.22.07 at 5:03 pm }

Clinton and Obama seems hellbent on making compromises before the plan is even presented which is a pretty stupid way to enter negotiations. Edwards and Kucinich have a clearer understanding of the reality of the issues.

Yes, Andante, there is a fee for Part B and it is deducted from Social Security payments. There is also “Medi-gap” insurance to cover the deductibles, but together people can afford them without making $100K+ a year.

The current Medicare tax is 1% for wage earners, so that is where the funding will come from, an increase in that tax.