Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday night

Watched "Frontline" tonight on health care ("Sick Around America"). You can watch it online here. It's a brand-new show. Go watch it if you didn't see it. It looks like we'll be getting some form of national health care this year. One thing they'll need to do is cap drug costs (way out of line) and develop a system of evaluating expensive new medical technology to make sure that it's used when needed and not just to ring up more profits for the health care industry. They do this already in other advanced countries, but not here.

Another thing the show pointed out was how our patchwork system causes people to choose jobs based on health care benefits. Stymieing people from seeking work that may better utilize their talents and education can't be good for our country's competitiveness in the world.

Also, this nation of immigrants is probably not attracting all the immigrants that might be of benefit to us. For example, why would anyone from Europe, which enjoys universal health care, even consider immigrating here, knowing they could go bankrupt (or die) if they slip through the cracks of our health care system? (And this happens a lot.) As reported on the show tonight, one of our prosperous residents was returning to her home country of New Zealand since she fell through the cracks. (New Zealand has a national health care system, so she doesn't have to worry any more.) Still, she'd like to come back here someday. This was her adoptive home and she did well here, until she got sick.

Also, 24% of our health care costs go to administration (all the bureaucracies in the health insurance companies, etc.). In Canada, it's half that. Someone said tonight that if we could halve our administrative costs, we could provide health care coverage for all the people who now go without (millions of people). Also, all of our health insurance companies have fully staffed departments whose job is to find discrepancies in customers' applications in order to rescind their insurance retroactively after the customers make legitimate claims. People who work in these departments get bonuses based on the dollar amount the insurance company saves due to their efforts.

It makes you wonder why insurance companies are even involved in our health care system. (But I think it was kind of foisted on them.)

(As I've said before, my father was in the insurance business all his life--mainly in surety bonds--and I'm not anti-insurance companies.)


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