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View Diary: What you should know about health insurance industry lobbyists and their lies (276 comments)

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  •  Well, I have to disagree. Throwing the baby out (2+ / 0-)

    with the bath water sounds great, but there are problems with your assertions.  Insurance companies do provide healthcare. It might not be enough for most, but they do provide healthcare and to say they don't is simply false.  There are other things the "can" do that don't involve "bleeding money out of the system" either.  That is simply an absurd statement.  I'm all for arguing against insurance companies and reforming healthcare; however, one needs to keep the debate within the realm of reality.  If we toss out the insurance companies, what do you propose we replace them with?

    •  here's what you are in favor of (12+ / 0-)

      Insurance underwriters, making $50,000 plus a year to scrutinize your health records and to decide whether to cancel your coverage or raise your premiums. Claims adjusters, whose salaries are about the same, to scrutinize each and every claim to see what can be denied.  Administrators, clerical to type up the policies and keep track, etc.  Salespeople who get what - 10-15% commission for selling the policy.  Executives, getting untold amounts of money.  Shareholders getting profits.   That totals up to 15 to 25% of your health care dollar. It's called an expense ratio.

      Then you pay for legions of administrators and claims workers in hospitals and doctor offices to fight for payment.  That totals another 10-20%.  

      From 35-50 percent of your premium goes for this system.  That's what you support.

    •  Universal Medicare coverage. nt (8+ / 0-)

      "I am my own forerunner"

      by Cassandra77 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 09:06:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  uc booker (14+ / 0-)

      what healthcare do insurance companies provide?  Do they provide checkups?  Perform surgery?  Evaluate people in emergency departments.

      Those things are health care.  I have yet to see an insurance company do anything but collect money.  They do not lay their hands on people with the intention of healing - they lay their hands on people's wallets with the intention of profiting.

      Insurance companies provide health care? You keep the debate within the realm of reality.

      "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

      by Edgewater on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 09:08:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He's asking a question (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling

        and I for one think people seriously need to consider the question he's asking because we need to have a discussion about how universal health care will be provided. I think people are attributing things to his statement which he did not say. That point is worthy of addressing in order to solve the problem.

        •  We do need a discussion of how to go (5+ / 0-)

          about getting universal health care.

          Saying things like:

          "Insurance companies do provide healthcare. It might not be enough for most, but they do provide healthcare and to say they don't is simply false"

          is patently beyond ridiculous and doesn't contribute to that discussion at all.  Especially when followed up by a statement like this,

          "...however, one needs to keep the debate within the realm of reality."

          If we cannot get past the point of understanding how badly health insurance companies are ripping off the American health system we haven't begun approaching reality and are nowhere near a useful discussion of what universal plan might work best.

          "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

          by Edgewater on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 11:39:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Kaiser Permanente does those things, actually (0+ / 0-)

        not that a counterexample negates your point, but I would agree with freakofsociety that there's value in engaging the question thoughtfully. Not everyone has discussed this as much as some of us here.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 11:45:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm going to agree with you and add (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra77, freakofsociety

      That the Health Insurance companies should not be eliminated, but force to compete with a Government program available to all Citizens/Permanent Residents.

      For those who wish to buy a more luxurious policy, or have insurance that covers things like Spa treatments or elective surguries, or guarantees them to be seen first in line, the Private Sector can service their needs.

      The mistake we have made in America is leaving the Private Sector responsible for providing care to all but the poorest of our citizens.  

      Whoever determines what can be talked about also determines what can be known.

      by fearisthemindkiller on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 09:09:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nationalized health care (13+ / 0-)

        to truly work well has to be paid for by everyone and cover everyone.

        If you allow the wealthy and healthy to opt out you continue the current situation which is:

        1. health insurance companies cherry-pick healthy people, refuse to cover sick people, and in so-doing reap unimaginable profits each year.
        1. the tax-payer is stuck paying for the health-care needs of the sickest of the sick and the poorest of the poor.

        The fact that our government plans currently pick up the tab for the elderly and the disabled while health insurance companies pick up the tab mostly for healthy people is what causes the government plan to cost tax-payers so much while health insurance companies are making money by the bucket-load.

        Everyone should have to pay into the government plan and everyone should be covered by it.  If there are some wealthy people who want additional perks to make them feel special they can pay private insurers on top of what they must pay to the national plan.

        "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

        by Edgewater on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 09:35:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You and I are not arguing different things. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          freakofsociety, Edgewater

          My comment was in response to the idea that the Health Insurance industry should be eliminated altogether.  I suggested it should not be eliminated, but exist to service the needs of those who want luxury care.

          If you are looking to pick a fight about Nationalized Health Care, you won't get one from me ; )

          Whoever determines what can be talked about also determines what can be known.

          by fearisthemindkiller on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 09:55:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not looking to pick a fight and (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snakelass, Lying eyes, Egalitare

            I don't think honest debate is the same thing.  I apologize if I gave the impression I meant anything other than to honestly discuss the issue with you.

            The reason I thought we may have different viewpoints was because of this statement that you made:

            "...Health Insurance companies should not be eliminated, but force to compete with a Government program available to all Citizens/Permanent Residents."

            I think we're in agreement that health insurance companies can be left alive to supplement the national plan for wealthy people who want extra medical perks as opposed to competing with it.  

            This seems ok as long as those people who opt for a supplemental plan are still paying in full for the national plan.  This would allow people to personalize their plan if they can afford to while not allowing the private sector to be in competition with the national plan.

            "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

            by Edgewater on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 10:11:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well OK (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nyceve, Edgewater

              In the interest of honest discussion, I can explain from my experience in Germany that Private companies do compete with te government programs.  In Germany, the Nation Healthcare offers different levels of coverage, the basic which is very good, is the most affordable.  The plus coverage -- which covers Spa's, massage, and even Botox, is additional.

              So here, the national plan competes with private companies who offer benefits primarily to get the dollars of those who want more than the basic offering.

              I don't think what you're saying imagines different levels of plan being offered by the government.

              As far as everyone paying into the plan, I think the difference is taxes.  19% VAT for example.  These countries have different attitude towards tax, and they are far better at collecting it.  

              I don't actually know if you can opt out of the Governemnt program in Germany.  I know that if you are employed, you are expected to pay 50% of the plan and your employer the rest -- basic is around 400 euro a month.  Split by two that's pretty easy.  If you are self-employed you pay for your own insurance 100%.  Again, I don't know if you can opt out because seriously no one would really consider going without insurance?  The culture is different.

              So yes, if our version of National Health Care is supposed to pay for itself, without drawing additionally, on the tax base then everyone paying into it is more fair and the competition is for the supplements.

              The other option for paying for the National Plan is of course to increase taxes, on either sales or income.  The end effect, however, is basically the same -- either we pay more in tax, somewhere, or everyone has to buy into the national plan.

              However, I do not believe that a sizable number of American's would choose to be uninsured if quality programs were available under 400 dollars a month.  Certainly I think enough people would opt in that the program would become financially viable.  

              Whoever determines what can be talked about also determines what can be known.

              by fearisthemindkiller on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 11:36:43 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  But (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nyceve, snakelass, Egalitare

                I don't actually know if you can opt out of the Governemnt program in Germany.

                if you don't know that then you cannot know this:

                I can explain from my experience in Germany that Private companies do compete with te government programs.

                Competition with the government program means that private companies could offer insurance that citizens could choose instead of the government plan.

                If citizens can opt out of the national program then there is direct head-to-head competition to provide coverage.

                If, on the other hand, citizens cannot opt out then private insurance is being used by some citizens as a supplement to their regular government coverage.

                These are two very different things and the key to which type of situation Germany has rests on whether citizens can opt out of the government plan in favor of a competing private plan or whether they are supplementing a compulsory national plan with extra perks.

                "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

                by Edgewater on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 11:49:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The point, in my hastily written comment, (0+ / 0-)

                  was that the question of mandates is irrelevant in a culture where no one would think that going without care was an option, mandated or not.

                  Whoever determines what can be talked about also determines what can be known.

                  by fearisthemindkiller on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 04:26:27 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Mandate isn't irrelevant though (3+ / 0-)

                    if the question is whether the country has a single payer plan or some other form of health care system.

                    If private companies are competing with the government plan and people can opt out of the government plan in favor of the private one that isn't a single payer plan.  

                    A plan like that would be precisely what I hope America avoids because it would adversely affect the government plan to have the healthiest/wealthiest cherry-picked out by private plans seeking profit by promising spa-type treatment.

                    Private plans should only exist as supplements to a universal plan that everyone pays into IMO.

                    "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

                    by Edgewater on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 04:55:34 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes you are making a valid policy point (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      snakelass, Edgewater

                      and I am trying to make a cultural point about how the presence of national health care system changes people's perceptions of health care and of being sick.

                      My friend in Berlin called out sick because he woke up with a sore throat, he wanted to go to the doctor and check it out.  It was nothing major and the doctor told him to take the day and rest.

                      I have read diaries here on dkos about people who suffer strokes and other terrifying symptoms and are still afraid to see their doctor because they can't afford it. This is the perceptual difference I am trying to illustrate.

                      Same with perceptions of health insurance -- when it is a given that you should be and can be insured there is no need for someone to mandate that you do.  

                      America will not transform into such a place immediately, but the presence of a nationalized plan over time will mean that people will eventually not even consider going without coverage, and people will take more preventative care on their own initiative.

                      Whoever determines what can be talked about also determines what can be known.

                      by fearisthemindkiller on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 05:35:20 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  "400 dollars a month" (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nyceve, snakelass

                That's more than what I hope to live on this year.

                I'm thinking about killing the $23/month phone and $13/month Internet service.

                Who would want to sell stock when everything is down, even Tampa Electric.

                •  A person in your situation (0+ / 0-)

                  would not be forced to pay anything for healthcare in most EU countries with nationalized system (even if those countries also have for profit options).

                  Whoever determines what can be talked about also determines what can be known.

                  by fearisthemindkiller on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 04:24:57 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Um, No (13+ / 0-)

      Insurance companies do provide healthcare.

      Actually, no, they do not.

      Healthcare providers (doctors, hospitals etc) provide the healthcare.

      Health Insurance companies do nothing but shuttle around money and paper. They do not provide an ounce of health care, not even an aspirin.

      Member, The Angry Left.

      by nosleep4u on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 10:00:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Um, yes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        freakofsociety

        If you don't have insurance, you'll never even see a doctor.  So, if you want to get literal, no they don't stick a thermometer up your bum, but they provide access to the people who do.

        •  Um - no (6+ / 0-)

          when I was in college I opted not to have health insurance because I couldn't afford it.  When I occasionally needed to see a doctor I paid out of pocket.  My health care costs were significantly lower than they would have been had I paid for health insurance.  

          It was a gamble, but since I was young and couldn't imagine a terrible medical event happening to me, I took that gamble.  I paid a lot less for health care as a result.  You don't need health insurance except in the face of catastrophic illness, disability, unemployment, severe poverty or chronic illness including age-related illness. Patients with these issues are precisely the ones insurance companies don't want to provide access for.

          Besides which, providing "access" is not the same thing as providing health care. It isn't being literal to point that out to someone who says things like, "one needs to keep the debate within the realm of reality"  that access isn't the same as care - it is keeping the debate within the realm of reality.  Again, I'll say it - you stay within the realm of reality.

          The truth is that doctors, nurses, PT's/OT's, psychologists, and other trained professionals within the health care field are the ones providing health care. Health insurance companies provide no health care.

          The diarist has correctly pointed out that:

          Certainly, the for-profit health insurance industry, which I follow quite closely, must lie to stay alive. They must dissemble, it's a fully parasitic industry which does less than zero except take many of our premium dollars and shovel them to Wall Street.

          to which you disingenuously say: but they provide "access" to health care, while ignoring the main point.  

          The main point being that these mammoth companies are profiting from providing no care.  We would not need them in the middle providing over-priced access to cherry-picked healthy people if they were not obstructing our ability to create a system that works for us and not for their grotesque profits.

          The health insurance industry is not the baby in the bathwater here.  They give nothing of value and take and take in return.  For our system to work for everyone they need to go.

          "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

          by Edgewater on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 11:32:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No. Just no. (6+ / 0-)

          If you don't have insurance, you'll never even see a doctor.

          Only if you let the insurance companies dictate that.

          If you want to give THEM your money, instead of paying a doctor that actually does something, that's just stupid.

          In the rest of the industrialized nations, people haven't bought that quart of stupid. They get along just fine w/o health insurance companies.

          That's why insurance companies advertise so much. Without advertisements (lies) they can't keep selling the same quart of stupid.

          Member, The Angry Left.

          by nosleep4u on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 11:38:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You have a valid point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling

      I wish people would seriously consider the question you are asking instead of jumping on you. It was an important question to ask.

      •  Sometimes before you can move on to (3+ / 0-)

        meaningful discussions you first have to dispel some untrue notions - claims like this:

        Insurance companies do provide healthcare. It might not be enough for most, but they do provide healthcare and to say they don't is simply false.

        fall directly and firmly into that category.

        "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

        by Edgewater on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 12:39:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Umm, no they do not provide healthcare (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, Egalitare, Edgewater

      they pay for health care.  There is a big difference.  

      But they are set up to avoid paying for health care if they can help it.  And therein lies the rub.  Insurance just was not designed to do what it is being asked to do.  That's why it needs to be replaced.  Darwin has spoken.  

      What makes it evil is not that insurance is doomed by selection.  It's that it is trying to lie and buy it's way out of its dilemma.

      Denial - it's not just a river in Egypt.

      by Imavehmontah on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 05:35:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, insurance companies do not provide healthcare (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, Edgewater

      They merely decide who can get it.  Doctors, hospitals, clinics and nurses provide healthcare.

    •  You make a fundamental error (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Edgewater

      Insurance companies DO NOT, in any real-word sense, "provide healthcare". They are not doctors. They are not hospitals. They are not medical labs. They are not even drugstores.

      What insurance companies provide is extremely limited ABILITY TO PAY FOR HEALTH CARE. This is so far from the same thing that it might as well be on Pluto.

      The argument we are having, in this thread and in this country, is not "who should provide health care", but "who should pay for the health care we need?"

      If you don't understand this, you don't understand anything about the problem.

      Yes We Did! Yes We Will!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 06:29:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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