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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

watch it: the 6/13/09 weekly address from President Barack Obama

I keep waiting to hear someone in a position of power say that the problem with health care is the health insurance companies. And I’m still not hearing it. Obama is talking about treatment and care driving up costs, when it’s the drive by insurance companies to make enormous profits that’s the problem. Our health care is awesome… if you can afford it. If your insurance company doesn’t deny you care because getting you well costs them too much damn money, a helluva lot more money than denying you the coverage you’re paying for does.

But no one is saying this. And so we won’t get any real change.

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  • marshall

    People are saying it, but it’s not getting as much media attention as it should be getting. Here: http://www.truthout.org/061209R

  • Pollas

    A better reform than single payer is making the insurance companies compete against each other to cover people. Competition would lower costs and force the insurance companies to work for the insured instead of lording over them.

    We do NOT want Medicare for all. The system is rife with fraudulent claims and payments and is currently going bankrupt.

  • the rook

    to pollas: i’m interested in how you “make” the insurance companies compete. they are all out there. they sell health insurance. i’m not seeing them compete with each other to lower premiums or increase benefits. i’m not seeing them work to make doctors more attentive to patients. maybe we should break up the five or six largest health insurers to make 30 or 40 smaller insurers in an effort to create a more competitive environment?

    the bottom line is that the performance metrics of a for profit company, more product at lower cost, doesn’t work for health insurance where it equates with ‘more patients per hour’. another strategy for private health insurers is to avoid paying for routine or preventative care and then cut the patient off when they come down with a serious condition. like any insurance company, the private health insurers make money by collecting premiums and not paying claims. that attitude is not catastrophic for auto insurance, but health care for the general population is too critical for the proper functioning of the economy to leave to an oligopoly that doesn’t really have the nation’s health as it’s top priority.

  • Pollas

    Well, I certainly don’t want the bumbling government involved in my healthcare. I don’t want a visit to the doctor to become like a visit to the DMV. Socialized medicine is just a bad idea. Yeah our healthcare system has problems, but socialized healthcare is even worse.

  • misterb


    I guess then that you don’t want the bumbling government involved in the military or the police department or bridge and road construction.

    Sorry, buddy, but your argument is brain-dead – the government may or not be the best supplier of any particular good, but there are definitely some things that government does better than private citizens. It’s debatable whether health care is one of those services, but it’s not debatable that those goods exist.

  • JoshB

    i’m interested in how you “make” the insurance companies compete

    Seriously. This is classic Libertarian syllable soup seasoned with empty clichés like “competition” and “big government.” This is the basic stuff, plays well to the crowd, then they tell you all about the NAFTA superhighway and One World Government. Ron Paul ’09!

    There is a case to be made that socialized health care is a bad idea, but I doubt Pollas is up to the task of making it.

  • MaryAnn

    Oh for god’s sake, no one is suggesting that we socialize “health care”! We need to socialize how we pay for health care.

    You know, like how the goddamn rest of the civilized world does it.

    It also frankly astonishes me that all these people who mischaracterize single-payer as “some bureaucrat dictating what health care they can or cannot receive” — which is NOT how the U.K.’s NHS works, or Canada’s system — appear to be perfectly happy that that is EXACTLY what is happening now. Except that that “some bureaucrat” works for Blue Cross or some other for-profit corporate insurance company!

  • MaryAnn

    A better reform than single payer is making the insurance companies compete against each other to cover people. Competition would lower costs and force the insurance companies to work for the insured instead of lording over them.

    But how can one shop around for insurance when the bullshit clauses about “preexisting conditions” greatly limits the options we have? It doesn’t benefit me to switch to a new company with lower premiums if that new company won’t cover the medical conditions I need insurance to pay for the treatment of!

    And why the hell should anyone be making a profit off health care? It’s disgusting. Not-for-profit doesn’t mean that people cannot make a very nice living working as doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc. It means that insurance-company vampires cannot get filthy fucking rich off denying people health care. When the motive for “health care” is to make a profit rather than make people well — or keep them from getting unwell in the first place — then making people well will never be the primary consideration.

  • JoshB

    no one is suggesting that we socialize “health care”

    Fine fine. Missphrased. Substitute “socialized health insurance” for “socialized healthcare.”

  • Kenny

    I don’t understand the situation in the US.

    I regard healthcare as a fundamental right… a right that can’t be taken away. The moment you charge for it… the moment you say to somebody “Ok, here’s the bill.” you’re limiting their treatement to what they can afford.

    Just comparing something as simple as infant mortality… in the UK it’s 5 in a thousand. In the USA, it’s 6.78..
    Why is it that in a nation which is richer, per head of population, you have nearly two more kids, per thousand born, who don’t make it to their first birthday?
    The poorest people in the US can’t afford decent medical care. It’s that simple. You talk about fraud and you carp on about the dangers of socialising this or that, and you prevaricate, and you debate,… and every single year, nearly 28’000 babies die who wouldn’t have if you had a healthcare system that treated people regardless of how much money they had.

  • Kenny

    And we have areas of desperate, grinding poverty in the UK. I teach in one of them… but even the poorest family who sends their kids to my school knows they can go to the doctor without worrying about how much it’ll cost them.

  • MaryAnn

    The poorest people in the US can’t afford decent medical care. It’s that simple.

    It’s not just poor people, Kenny. Plenty people who pay through the nose for health insurance find that claims and benefits are regularly denied. People fear to change jobs because that would mean changing insurance companies or plans, which is a huge problem if you have a preexisting condition. (Can you believe that? The people who actually NEED insurance coverage for an ongoing issue can be DENIED care precisely FOR that reason!) Other people cannot start companies because they won’t be able to provide health insurance for their employees.

    And then, even if you do have coverage, there’s the constant endless confusing paperwork and phone calls, the fighting with the insurance company to cover what you need… all while you’re sick or injured and should be focusing on getting well, not on dealing with red tape.

    The only reasons I can conceive of as to why Americans fight getting rid of this system is that we’ve been deliberately lied to and misled about the clear benefits of single-payer by the people who are getting obscenely rich off the insurance system we have. And it’s easy to lie to us and mislead us, because most Americans don’t travel and have no idea how much better health care is in the rest of the civilized world, don’t have friends in other countries who can tell them their firsthand stories. And most Americans don’t read, so they cannot make up for the lack of experience either.

    And I blame the American political progessive left, which is clearly unable to organize itself to even play defense against the bullshit of the right, never mind playing offense.

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