I bet you were wondering where Health Care Tuesdays went…but never fear. So, I know I talked about doing the whole myth of moral hazard, but then I saw this article about one of my favorite state senators, Gil Cedillo (D-LA).
State Sen. Gil Cedillo was at his wit’s end. Hospital officials were threatening to move his septuagenarian mother to another hospital because of an insurance snafu, and her family was not sure her heart was strong enough. Having lost his wife, Ruby, to cancer in 2002 after a long battle, Cedillo knows more than he cares to about the frustrations of navigating the health care system and dealing with insurance companies. Cedillo was able to resolve his mother’s problem — with the help of a highly placed former colleague… But health care advocates and providers say their stories illustrate that no one is exempt from the vagaries of the system. (SacBee 5/29/07)
See, the insurance companies know they have you by…ummm…[pick a body part here], and they have no real need to provide real quality service. I mean, why bother, right? It’s not like you can go anywhere when you actually need to make a claim. No other provider will take you if there’s a looming claim, so why not treat you like some sort of football. They’ll just play you off against whatever they can. Just check out CarlsbadDem’s diary.
So, in Sen. Cedillo’s case, it was playing games with the hospital. And that seems to happen quite frequently. In fact, frequently enough to be the subject of pending legislation, SB 389 authored by Sen. Yee (D-SF/SM). The thing is, that patients are nothing more than source of losses for insurance companies. I mean, after all, once you are sick, the likelihood that you get sick again goes up. So, if they lose you, oh well, one less loser sucking up resources that could go to their shareholders.
Can we continue to have this massive source of waste in our health care system? Is this at all sustainable? well, the answers point to no. No other major industrialized nation relies on insurance companies so heavily. Look, here is the best possible scenario for an insurance company: they pool everybody’s risk and then dole out money for care. See, the critical thing is the word everybody. If they don’t have everybody, some healthy people will opt out and that will cut into the bottom line. What is the obvious answer to that? Well, if you are Mitt Romney, that is individual mandate. What a frickin’ joke.
And if you adjust that thinking cap, you’ll soon realize that this is a truly public good. Like good public education, we all have a vested interest in insuring that our society stays as healthy as possible. Even if we force everybody to get insurance, we then have to deal with the various InsCos jockeying for the healthiest patients and trying to dump the costly ones. So, we truly need one company. Are we going to bestow those massive profits onto Blue Cross? or perhaps some other Fortune 500 company? Or, we could just bypass all that and just use an entity that requires no profit. Yes, it’s the government! And the answer is called Medicare for all.
Surely, it’s not perfect, but we are in an unsustainable position that will eventually take down the health care system as we know it. That’s just the way it is folks.