Winds of Change

I’m hoping that Obama gets some socialized medicine in place before I lose my job. The last time I was out of work it didn’t matter too much, but the times before that the astronomical costs of doctor visits, prescriptions, and health insurance really burned me up.

Doesn’t that sound just like a coddled, ungrateful American who’s ready to throw free enterprise under the bus as soon as times get tough? You bet. However, considering the state of the healthcare industry and the insurance industry, I don’t really feel guilty about it.

The US healthcare industry badly needs to be rationalized, because its dependence on employer-paid health insurance has caused its financial priorities to be totally out of line with its ethical priorities. It has mutated into some monstrous freak in an effort to adapt to economic circumstances, but those economic circumstances were artificially created. Patients need to stop expecting medical miracles, doctors need to stop rushing patients into the lab and the pharmacy, and hospitals need to stop externalizing costs. I don’t know exactly what will help realign things, but I think the first step to healing healthcare is to dismantle the corrupt private health insurance industry.

The US health insurance industry is a huge scam that needs to be reduced by at least 50%, if not as much as 75%. The premise for its existence is fraudulent and deceptive, and has resulted in patients becoming addicted to wasteful services and wonder drugs while doctors have become cheap whores.

Part of the fraud, of course, involves statistics. The premise of a health insurance Ponzi scheme is that costs can be distributed throughout the entire group, thus requiring only a minimal donation from each individual, as long as they can keep drawing in young and healthy new members. However, in practice this externalization of costs results in pandering to the existing customer base by paying for worthless trendy services, while excluding necessary services to undesirable customers, who are technically known as “sick people.”

The whole concept of risk management, as found in the modern insurance industry, is also contrary to common sense for anyone in the bottom third of the income distribution. If I have trouble making enough money to pay my monthly bills, I have no incentive to contribute to an actuarial scheme that might not return commensurate benefits to me for 30 years or more.

Even if I can afford to gamble away some short-term disposable income, it’s plain to me that the game is going to be rigged in favor of the house.  Supposedly, an insurance company can get better returns on my money than I could; but considering their ridiculous overhead for staff and executive salaries, I doubt it. The fact that health insurance premiums and health insurance company stock dividends together increase at a faster rate than healthcare costs is one indication that the scheme is fraudulent.

Another argument for health insurance is that they can negotiate lower prices from healthcare providers and drug companies. Yet, for some reason this never results in lower premiums for customers. Instead, it puts pressure on healthcare providers to force patients faster through the assembly line and then recoup their costs on other products or services that they can overcharge on. Drug companies just pour more money into marketing their high-profit-margin products and paying for phony scientific research.

Meanwhile, medical students figure out that the only way to survive as a doctor is to soak the health insurance companies for trendy elective surgeries and specialized knowledge, since they know that all the costs will get passed on to patients and their employers. The artificially created demand for specialists results in wasteful concentration in certain areas and scarcity in areas of real need.

The best way to bring free enterprise back to healthcare is by eliminating the distortions and cost-shifting caused by the collectivist fantasies of health insurance, which mainly benefits a few venal bureaucrats. And that’s why I’m in favor of shaking up the system by introducing a little competition from the federal government, which has a lot more bureaucrats. I don’t have any hope of “fixing” the healthcare system; I just want to see the health insurance industry go down hard.

Now, all this is because I might be losing my full-time job with health benefits in the next few months. If things get really bad and I have to settle for a job as a corporate drone again . . . well, let’s just say I can still find my balaclava.

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4 thoughts on “Winds of Change

  1. I can’t watch the video on my dialup connection, but I read a transcript of the June 15 interview at http://www.ronpaul.com and I’ve looked at his previous proposals. He is more reasonable than most, and I certainly trust him more than most.

    His past proposals included tax credits for health care expenses, including premiums; rolling over FSAs; loosening up restrictions on HSAs; “negative outcomes” insurance purchased by the patient rather than malpractice insurance purchased by the doctor; child tax credits for medical expenses and prescription drugs that are not reimbursed by insurance; and expanded tax deductions. All of these are good, although the tax deductions do nothing for someone who doesn’t make enough to itemize.

    However, I don’t know if he has proposed getting the health insurance companies off the dole by getting rid of their guaranteed income from employers, which ends up allowing them to monopolize statewide insurance markets. If that market distortion alone were eliminated, my income would increase by about 30%; then I could buy catastrophic insurance in a competitive market and have plenty of money left over to pay for doctors and prescriptions in cash.

    The other problem is that insurance companies need to be forced to honor their contracts honestly. In order to cover everyone with an expensive pre-existing or terminal condition, you will have to have some kind of government-sponsored plan. But health insurance companies won’t even pay claims on conditions that they agree to cover, which are supposedly factored into their actuarial tables. The policies need to be straightforward, and deceptive claims adjusting should be punished severely as a breach of contract that involves returning ALL of the premiums paid.

    Also, health insurance companies should be run as conservatively as a traditional bank or a mutual holding company, instead of like some high-flying investment house that victimizes its customers as part of an expense-reduction plan.

    Finally, as Ron Paul says, the health insurance companies should get out of the prepaid services market altogether. Health insurance should only be for large expenses. It could be sold as low-cost catastrophic insurance for unexpected expenses, and as term insurance or reverse annuity for planned expenses.

    Health insurance should be an insignificant part of daily life, rather than being treated as some sort of specially protected “necessary” service that just happens to victimize doctors, hospitals, employers, and patients. It is an evil, predatory, deceptive industry that is destroying our healthcare system while it sucks out huge amounts of every company’s compensation budget and ruins people’s lives every day. I want to see health insurance executives whining and crying just like the Wall Street investment bankers, and I’ll cheer on their destruction at the hands of anyone, including the federal government.

  2. I watched the video you linked to, and he follows the same points he has in the past, which I listed above. The good thing is that he is realistic about the legitimate purpose for health insurance, rather than trying to justify their failing business model. Too many “conservatives” and “libertarians” think it is the government’s purpose to subsidize corporate failures and give special favors to “capitalists” who lie to stockholders and don’t know how to manage a company.

  3. Pingback: Hitler’s Health Care « Brainbiter

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