As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Insurance That Doesn't Insure

The New York Times basically goes where Michael Moore went in his film SiCKo, finding that the problems with the health care system are just as bad for those who have insurance as those who don't. Insurance companies have the financial incentive to deliver as little on their promises of coverage as possible - it's as simple as that:

Health insurance is supposed to offer protection — both medically and financially. But as it turns out, an estimated three-quarters of people who are pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems actually had insurance when they got sick or were injured.

And so, even as Washington tries to cover the tens of millions of Americans without medical insurance, many health policy experts say simply giving everyone an insurance card will not be enough to fix what is wrong with the system.

Too many other people already have coverage so meager that a medical crisis means financial calamity.

The real stories in this piece will break your heart. Families forced into bankruptcy because insurers found a way to exclude their medical treatment from their coverage. Insurers selling coverage that is essentially worthless. Plans that cap reimbursement for an operation at $5,000, when most operations cost several times that at the very least.

The crack solution from Republicans and conservaDems to this issue of insurers issuing worthless insurance is to create a monopoly for their industry, pay subsidies to people to funnel over to them, and not allow any public insurance option to compete for fear that it would actually lower prices for consumers. That's literally their concern:

(Lieberman's) two key objections are:

"If we create a public option, the public is going to end up paying for it."

"My fear is...[health care providers] would end up getting levels of reimbursement from the public plan...comparable to what they get today from Medicaid."

He thinks that Medicare/Medicaid bargaining rates are insulting to providers, but rising health care costs are OK for working stiffs. Lieberman, by the way, promised universal health care during his 2006 campaign for Senate. Of course, in practice, he's tried to kill universal health care ever since 1993. And insurance companies dominate Connecticut.

This is part of a general strategy by Republicans and moderates to reward the very people who caused the problems that "reform" legislation seeks to solve. It makes sense for the corporations pulling the strings, but nobody else.

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