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eridani

eridani's Journal
eridani's Journal
May 7, 2014

Getting serious about a single payer system

Getting serious about a single payer system
http://touch.baltimoresun.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-80073903/

By James F. BurdickUpdated May 1, 2014

A single payer system — where the government pays for health costs — is now recognized by many in the U.S. as the best solution for our health care problems. It was taken "off the table" in 2009 by Sen. Max Baucus, A Montana Democrat who reportedly received more money from the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries than any other Congressman. But now the flood of single payer advocacy cannot be turned off by vested business interests. It is time to progress from the stereotype of single payer to having a serious discussion about it.

Ironically, even after its recent success in covering millions more Americans, the problems with the Affordable Care Act serve to illuminate the advantages of single payer. The public, although confused by the divisive rhetoric around health care reform, is coming to realize that the complexity of the law and the pursuit of insurance company profits are major problems for the ACA. Back in 2009, a majority of Americans favored a single payer-like system. The country may now lose patience with the protracted process of ACA implementation, with Republicans yapping at its heels, until 2020 when the final provision closing the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole fully kicks in.

The 30-page H.R. 676, the single payer bill of Rep. John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat, shows how simple it is to cover everyone. It provides savings through quality care — including protection from harmful overuse and efficient, timely management of chronic disease — as well as savings through national monopsony buying power and freedom from insurance business profits.

May 2, 2014

Envisioning the End of Employer-Provided Health Plans

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/upshot/employer-sponsored-health-insurance-may-be-on-the-way-out.html?hp

The idea is this: Now that federal and state exchanges exist where anyone, even those with pre-existing illnesses, can gain coverage, employers might decide to give their workers a stipend to pay for health insurance on the exchanges rather than sponsor a plan themselves.

In truth, the American system of health care — in which most people get their private health insurance through their employer — has always been rather odd. Why should quitting a job also mean you have to get a new health insurance plan? Why should your boss get to decide what options you have and negotiate the cost of them? Employers don’t get to select our auto insurance or mortgage company, so why should health insurance be any different?

If there is uncertainty around how the employer-provided health insurance system will evolve, there is even more around who will ultimately pay the bill. It could be the federal government, via insurance subsidies, or individuals who must pay for more of their health care. In a perfect world, lower costs would come from a more efficient system that provides better care at lower costs. But no one knows what the actual system of, say, 2025 will look like, any more than people could have foreseen the decline of pensions when the 401(k)

Michael G. Thompson, managing director at S&P Capital IQ, argues that the parallel with defined-benefit pension plans is an apt one. For decades, those plans were a major benefit offered by large employers. But as other options became available that allowed employers to more cheaply provide retirement benefits with fewer administrative headaches, which 401(k)s provided, employers shifted to 401(k)s en masse.

“We still expect some companies to hold on to their health care plans, just as some private companies still have pensions,” Mr. Thompson said. “But we think that the tax incentives for employer-driven insurance are not enough to offset the incentives for companies to transition people over to exchanges and have them be more autonomous around management of their own health care.”
April 29, 2014

How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/14/how-being-a-doctor-became-the-most-miserable-profession.html

Nine of 10 doctors discourage others from joining the profession, and 300 physicians commit suicide every year. When did it get this bad?

By the end of this year, it’s estimated that 300 physicians will commit suicide. While depression amongst physicians is not new—a few years back, it was named the second-most suicidal occupation—the level of sheer unhappiness amongst physicians is on the rise.

Simply put, being a doctor has become amiserable and humiliating undertaking. Indeed, many doctors feel that America has declared war on physicians—and both physicians and patients are the losers.

Not surprisingly, many doctors want out. Medical students opt for high-paying specialties so they can retire as quickly as possible. Physician MBA programs—that promise doctors a way into management—are flourishing. The website known as the Drop-Out-Club—which hooks doctors up with jobs at hedge funds and venture capital firms—has a solid following. In fact, physicians are so bummed out that 9 out of 10 doctors would discourage anyone from entering the profession.

It’s hard for anyone outside the profession to understand just how rotten the job has become—and what bad news that is for America’s health care system. Perhaps that’s why author Malcolm Gladwell recently implied that to fix the healthcare crisis, the public needs to understand what it’s like to be a physician. Imagine, for things to get better for patients, they need to empathize withphysicians—that’s a tall order in our noxious and decidedly un-empathetic times.

After all, the public sees ophthalmologists and radiologists making out like bandits and wonder why they should feel anything but scorn for such doctors—especially when Americans haven’t gotten a raise in decades. But being a primary care physician is not like being, say, a plastic surgeon—a profession that garners both respect and retirement savings. Given that primary care doctors do the work that no one else is willing to do, being a primary care physician is more like being a janitor—but without the social status or union protections.


April 22, 2014

Single-Payer System Would Be a Boon to the Economy, Public Citizen Report Says

http://www.healthcare-now.org/single-payer-system-would-be-a-boon-to-economy-public-citizen-report-says

A publicly funded, universal health care system would aid businesses by engendering a more dynamic economy, taming costs and freeing businesses that provide health insurance of the costs of administering benefits and subsidizing the nation’s health care,a Public Citizen report released last week concludes.

“Small businesses have rated the cost of health insurance as their top concern for a quarter century, and large businesses struggle with health care obligations that their international competitors do not have to worry about,” said Taylor Lincoln, research director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report. “If it weren’t for entrenched partisan alliances, business leaders would have demanded that Congress relieve them of health care burdens long ago.”

Publicly funded universal health care systems – such as the Canadian “single-payer” system, in which the government pays for all covered services – exist in nearly every developed country in the world. In the United States, universal care systems could be implemented either at the federal or state levels. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 includes language permitting states to apply for waivers that would enable them to institute universal care systems beginning in 2017. Vermont has passed legislation declaring an intention to do just that.

Public Citizen’s report, “Severing the Tie That Binds,” outlines three ways a universal health care system would benefit businesses.

April 19, 2014

US health care prices are NOT higher because we use more services

http://www.ifhp.com/1404121

“First, it gives the lie to the idea that some countries spend more on health as a result of higher utilization. It is all about unit price,” he said. “Second, we have looked here at a number of procedures and products which are identical across the markets surveyed. The price variations bear no relation to health outcomes: they merely demonstrate the relative ability of providers to profiteer at the expense of patients, and in some cases reflect a damaging degree of market failure.”

Prices examined in the study included those from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. The data for the report was gathered from participating IFHP member organizations in each country. Prices in the U.S. were based on prices negotiated between private health plans and health care providers.

2013 Comparative Price Report
http://static.squarespace.com/static/518a3cfee4b0a77d03a62c98/t/534fc9ebe4b05a88e5fbab70/1397737963288/2013%20iFHP%20FINAL%204%2014%2014.pdf



http://www.vox.com/cards/health-prices/america-is-getting-gouged-on-health-care-prices

Most other countries have some central body that negotiates prices with hospitals and drug manufacturers. Tom Sackville (chief executive of the International Federation of Health Plans) who used to work for Britain's health care system, recalls that it would have a unit of 14 people whose whole job was getting drug manufacturers to give the country a better deal on prescription medications.

That unit of 14 is essentially buying in bulk for a country of 63 million people – and can successfully ask for steep discounts in return.

The United States doesn't have that type of agency. Every insurance plan negotiates individually with hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical company to set their own prices. Insurers in the United States don't, as these charts show, get a bulk discount. Instead, our fragmented system means that Americans pay more for every type of health care that IFHP measured.

"You could say that American health care providers and pharmaceuticals are essentially taking advantage of the American public because they have such a fragmented system," said Sackville. "The system is so divided, it's easy to conquer."



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/business/treatment-cost-could-influence-doctors-advice.html?hp&_r=0

Still, it is unclear if medical societies are the best ones to make cost assessments. Doctors can have financial conflicts of interest and lack economic expertise.

The cardiology societies, for instance, plan for now to rely on published literature, not commission their own cost-effectiveness studies, said Dr. Paul A. Heidenreich, a professor at Stanford and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the new policy.

They plan to rate the value of treatments based on the cost per quality-adjusted life-year, or QALY — a method used in Britain and by many health economists.

The societies say that treatments costing less than about $50,000 a QALY would be rated as high value, while those costing more than $150,000 a QALY would be low value.

“We couldn’t go on just ignoring costs,” Dr. Heidenreich said.



Comment by Don McCanne of PNHP: The International Federation of Health Plans represents private health insurers in 25 nations. Its members include several U.S. health insurers plus AHIP - the powerful insurance lobby in the United States. Although many would argue that it is this industry that is tasked with the responsibility of negotiating fair prices for health care services and products, in this release they contend that the very high prices in the United States “merely demonstrate the relative ability of providers to profiteer at the expense of patients, and in some cases reflect a damaging degree of market failure.”

What a remarkable statement. We are paying the insurers massive sums for their very expensive administrative services while they inflict tremendous administrative burdens on the health care delivery system, plus they take away from patients their choices in health care, especially choices of their health care professionals. They concede that they cannot control the “ability of providers to profiteer,” nor can they correct this market failure. They have become a profoundly expensive but useless appendage to the health care system - an appendage that should be severed.

Nevertheless, prices are still too high in the United States, so what can be done? Consolidation of hospitals and physicians has been anti-competitive, but prices were already high before the recent wave of consolidations began. Some providers offer services that make them “must have” participants in the insurer networks. They have a greater ability to stand firm on high prices, thus it is unlikely that antitrust enforcement could have more than a negligible impact on reducing prices.

Physicians seem to be more sensitive to cost barriers for their patients than do the hospitals and pharmaceutical firms, though both of the latter do have programs for selected indigent patients. The New York Times article describes how physician organizations are beginning to address the issue of high prices, though much of the effort seems to target the pharmaceutical firms rather than the physicians themselves. What is really remarkable though is that some physicians are now willing to look at assigning a monetary value to a quality-adjusted life-year (QALY).

Do physicians really want to assume the role of telling their patients that they will deny care that may be of some benefit but exceeds an arbitrary cost threshold assigned to a QALY? Physicians traditionally have not been the payers for their own patients’ health care. That is usually an insurer, the government, or the patient paying in cash. Shouldn’t the payer be making the spending decisions instead of the physician?

The insurers have a terrible track record - often paying too much, but also creating access barriers to care. The government has done a better job with Medicare, but with Medicaid they have often underfunded care which also creates financial barriers to care. With today’s very high health care costs, most patients are unable to pay cash if they face major medical expenses, so a third party payer is required.

Some models today would place the physician at least partially in the role of insurer. What is surprising is the relative silence on the ethical violation that such a role entails. The physician should never be placed in a position in which he profits by withholding beneficial health care. The MBAs in health care do not seem to understand the fundamental ethical compromise of such an arrangement.

The IFHP report on international health care prices does show that other nations are much more effective in controlling prices. They all have in common the fact that the government plays a major role in administering or tightly regulating prices. In general, governments seem to get it right. If we had a single payer system, we would get it right as well. In doing so we would also eliminate the profound waste caused by the private insurers, and we would ensure that financial barriers to care are removed for everyone.

What about defining the value of a QALY as ranging from $50,000 to $150,000? That should not be the role of the physician who should always be in a position to advocate for what is right for the patient. That should be the role of the public administrator who negotiates health care prices. A better term than negotiation would be price administration, implying that the government should have an “unfair” or unbalanced clout when it comes to getting prices right. Right prices means legitimate costs plus fair margins. No other country will be paying $84,000 for a twelve week course of Sovaldi to treat hepatitis C. We wouldn’t either if we had a single payer system.
April 2, 2014

Krugman vs conservative Douthat on ACA

Douthat
http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/31/obamacare-lives/

Back when rate shock, website problems and lagging enrollment were threatening to unravel the new health care law before it fully took effect, I concluded a column on Obamacare’s repeated near-death experiences with the following warning to conservatives:

“The welfare state’s ability to defend itself against reform, however, carries a cautionary message for Obamacare’s critics as well. What isn’t killed outright grows stronger the longer it’s embedded in the federal apparatus, gaining constituents and interest-group support just by virtue of its existence even if it doesn’t work out the way it was designed. And as disastrous as its launch has been, if the health care law can survive this crisis in the same limping, staggering way it survived Scott Brown and the Supremes, then it will be a big step closer to being part of the status quo, with all the privileges and political strength that entails.

“So yes — it’s possible that this brush with death will be fatal, possible that the law will fall with the lightest, most politically painless push. But it’s still likely that Obamacare will be undone only if its critics are willing to do something more painful, and take their own turn wrestling with a system that resists any kind of change.”


Obamacare, The Unknown Ideal
Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/31/obamacare-the-unknown-ideal/

But we do know that there won’t be an immediate political unraveling, and that we aren’t headed for the kind of extremely-low-enrollment scenario that seemed conceivable just a few months ago, or the possible world where cancellations had ended up outstripping enrollment, creating a net decline in the number of insured. And knowing that much has significant implications for our politics. It means that the kind of welfare-state embedding described above is taking place on a significant scale, that a large constituency will be served by Obamacare (through Medicaid as well as the exchanges) in 2016 and beyond, and that any kind of conservative alternative will have to confront the reality that the kind of tinkering-around-the-edges alternatives to Obamacare that many Republicans have supported to date would end up stripping coverage from millions of newly-insured Americans. That newly-insured constituency may not be as large as the bill’s architects originally hoped, or be composed of the range of buyers that the program ultimately needs. But it will be a fact on the ground to an extent that was by no means certain last December. And that fact will shape, and constrain, the options of the law’s opponents even in the event that Republicans manage to reclaim the White House two years hence.

But Ross Douthat, in the course of realistically warning his fellow conservatives that Obamacare doesn’t seem to be collapsing, goes on to tell them that they’re going to have to come up with a serious alternative.

And what you’ve just defined are the essentials of ObamaRomneyCare. It’s a three-legged stool that needs all three legs. If you want to cover preexisting conditions, you must have the mandate; if you want the mandate, you must have subsidies. If you think there’s some magic market-based solution that obviates the stuff conservatives don’t like while preserving the stuff they like, you’re deluding yourself.

What this means in practice is that any notion that Republicans will go beyond trying to sabotage the law and come up with an alternative is fantasy. Again, Obamacare is the conservative alternative, and you can’t move further right without doing no reform at all.


Comment by Don McCanne of PNHP: There have been many isolated efforts to define the conservative, or Republican, or libertarian proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), but there is no one model that the Republicans wish to advance in Congress at this time. The Republican controlled House of Representatives has voted fifty times to repeal ACA, but they have not voted on any substitute to address the widely acknowledged deficiencies in health care financing.

Conservative Ross Douthat and liberal Paul Krugman now provide us with a perspective on the conservative/Republican alternative for reform.

Douthat acknowledges that a conservative goal is to expand coverage (especially for the more vulnerable), whereas the current “tinkering-around-the-edges alternatives to Obamacare that many Republicans have supported to date would end up stripping coverage from millions of newly-insured Americans.” He suggests that the policy restraints of an ACA already in place would force Republicans “in a more serious direction.”

Krugman, on the other hand, writes, “Obamacare IS the conservative alternative.” Not only does it meet many of the conservative goals of insurance reform, it was even designed by the conservatives. The liberal position would have been to support a single payer model.

Single payer was abandoned in favor of the conservative model that would bring Republicans on board with a new, post-partisan president, while liberals would forfeit the single payer advantages in exchange for a politically feasible, bipartisan accord.

Think of where that puts us now. If the conservatives were to gain complete control, they would tweak ACA to loosen regulation of insurers, to reduce federal funding, and to place greater control within the states. If the liberals were to gain complete control, they would tweak ACA to correct many of the defects that were left in place when the negotiations refining the legislation were halted abruptly because of the Democrats having lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (not to mention the sabotage of a former Democratic vice-presidential nominee).

The fact that further battles will all take place over on the right is a tragedy. The fundamental structure of ACA is irreparably flawed, as would be any modifications that the Republicans would make to move the insurance function further into the private marketplace. Already we have seen a great multitude of very serious flaws that scream out for remedial legislation. But each new patch creates more complexity. The fundamental infrastructure cannot be repaired by patches. We need a new infrastructure (and it would be better and cheaper!).

Krugman says, “in a better world I’d call for single-payer.” Let’s make this a better world.
March 28, 2014

Jimmy Carter comes out in favor of Medicare for All

The Diane Rehm Show
March 26, 2014
President Jimmy Carter: "A Call To Action"

Diane Rehm: Briefly, how do you feel about the Affordable Care Act?

President Jimmy Carter: I was disappointed the way it was done and the complexity that it assumed. Instead of taking a leadership role from the White House and saying, “This is what we think is best,” they had five different congressional committees do it and it got, I think, the lowest common denominator, which is the most complex system. I would really have favored just the expansion of Medicare to include all ages, rather than just to deal with old people.

Video (38 second clip of quote above; also full 51 minute video):
http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-03-26/president-jimmy-carter-call-action


Comment by Don McCanne of PNHP: Characterizing the Affordable Care Act as “the lowest common denominator - the most complex system,” President Jimmy Carter tells us that he would have favored “the expansion of Medicare to include all ages.”

He’s right, and here’s why. There have been numerous analyses of multiple models of reform. Most of them have included a model that would build on our private insurance system and expand Medicaid, just as is found in the Affordable Care Act. Of these analyses, this is the most expensive model and it falls short on important goals such as universality, equity, administrative efficiency, and affordability.

In contrast, single payer is the least expensive of the effective models and achieves virtually all of the goals of reform. An improved version of Medicare that is expanded to include everyone would be such a model. A health service model - socialized medicine - would also work, but the nation is still too leery of that much government involvement. The popularity of Medicare indicates that this is about the level of government involvement that most would support.

We have to keep reminding Americans that the exchanges are marketing private insurance - not government insurance, so they cannot confuse a government exchange with government insurance. In fact, the exchanges are prohibited from even including a government “public option” (which wouldn’t have worked anyway since the rest of the fragmented, dysfunctional system would have been left in place). Those who defend the private Medicare Advantage plans have to be reminded that they burn up more taxpayer dollars for administration and profits while depriving patients of choice because of their limited networks of providers. Once payment between government Medicare and private Medicare Advantage is equalized, the the private insurers cannot possibly compete with the government program because of their inherent inefficiencies. This was already proven by the failure of the Medicare + Choice plans that preceded Medicare Advantage.

It’s too bad that Jimmy Carter didn’t start talking about Medicare for all when he was president. It might have been helpful if the public had had a few decades to think about it before we got to the point that legislation could be passed. They could have pressured the politicians to do it right.

March 26, 2014

Spaniards Say No to Privatized Healthcare


http://www.popularresistance.org/spaniards-say-no-to-privatized-healthcare/

The Spanish healthcare system was ranked seventh best in the world by the World Health Organization in 2000. But last year, Spain appeared to be well on its way to adopting a healthcare system more akin to the one used in the United States, which ranked 37th

In October 2012, Ignacio González, the leader of Madrid’s regional government, put forward a plan to privatize six hospitals and 10 percent of the city’s health centers. Critics feared the plan was the first step toward privatization of hospitals in other regions.

But after a wave of strikes by medical providers, as well as lawsuits and a popular referendum, Spanish unions and citizens have won a decisive victory in the battle for public healthcare. On January 27, the Popular Party (PP), Spain’s center-right ruling party, canceled the planned privatization of Madrid’s hospitals.

Shortly after the plan was announced in 2012, a coalition of unions called the first general strike in Madrid’s healthcare sector. The “white wave”—a reference to the medical smocks that strikers wore—quickly spread to the rest of the country as healthcare workers in 15 cities supported Madrid by staging a sympathy strike. This was followed by a popular referendum in May 2013, which resulted in more than a million people going on record to oppose privatization.
March 21, 2014

Even with Platinum coverage, you still get narrow networks

Guess what? Most Americans don't give a shit about choice of insurance plans, but they really, really care about choice of providers and hospitals.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-20/obamacare-limits-choices-under-some-plans

I had the exact same problem as Mr. Rosenthal only in Florida with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Got screwed, as I also picked the Platinum plan and found out my hospital and doctors were not covered. The best research I did before hand indicated I would be covered and found after the fact I was not. Got furious with BCBS and they agreed to correct a few cost items with my doctors. They are playing dollar games with our health and I am completely frustrated. I am not upset with Obama-Care, only with the sligh and sneaky Insurance companies. Cannot drop my insurance and/or change until November of this year. What a fiasco. A singly payer system would correct all of this smoke and mirror games played by the Insurance industry.


http://www.aei.org/article/health/in-obamacare-go-for-bronze-health-plans-for-most-people-buying-up-to-gold-or-platinum-plans-is-a-waste-of-money/

Data to support this claim:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/201871033/Comparison-of-Bronze-Versus-Platinum-Obamacare-Plans

The bottom line is this. When you’re choosing a particular insurance offering, you typically can’t trade up to a better benefit by buying the gold or platinum variety of that plan. It’s usually the exact same benefit regardless of the metal you choose.

So what varies between these different metal plans? Typically, just the co-pay structure and deductibles. As you pay higher premiums for a gold or platinum plan, your deductibles and co-pays will decline. The insurer will typically cover 60 percent of expected medical expenses in a bronze plan, 80 percent in a gold plan and 90 percent in a platinum plan. So, by buying the costlier plans, all you’re doing is fronting a higher premium to buy down your anticipated out of pocket costs. You’re not getting a better network of doctors or a better formulary of drugs.



http://www.mckinsey.com/client_service/healthcare_systems_and_services/latest_thinking

Across silver tier networks in our 20 analyzed rating areas, 58 percent of the lowest-price products utilize ultra-narrow networks and another 26 percent utilize narrow networks. Network breadth appears to be positively correlated with premium levels in many cases, but the use of narrower networks is common at all price points.


http://www.remappingdebate.org/article/out-network-coverage-new-york-we-left-it-insurers

New York’s health insurance exchange (called “NY State of Health”) offers individuals and families numerous insurance plan options at various “metal” levels. What it doesn’t offer in most parts of the state are plans that provide coverage for non-emergency out-of-network care. In a sample Manhattan zip code, for example, there are 62 plans available at all metal levels. Not one of those plans pays for out-of-network care.

Why then did New York State not require out-of-network coverage? “We left it up to the insurers,” said (Department of Health’s Randi) Imbriaco, and the insurers, she continued, arguing that “a closed network helps keeps costs low,” chose not to provide out-of-network coverage in most of New York State, including New York City (some plans in the western part of New York State do offer such coverage).


Comment by Don McCanne of PNHP: According to the Bloomberg Businessweek report, Ben Rosenthal and reader John Alexander purchased the highest tier plans available - platinum plans - to ensure that they would have coverage for their current physicians and hospitals. No way. Insurers have pushed the perversity of narrow network plans all the way to the top.

Before Barack Obama was even nominated, the Democratic strategists had already decided that “Choice” would be a campaign slogan to market health care reform. Some of us protested that Celinda Lake and Herndon Alliance were pushing “choice of private health plans” when what the Democrats should have been advocating was “choice of physicians and hospitals.” It is clear which faction won this debate, as single payer supporters had the door slammed on them.

But look at the consequences. We were promised that we would have our choice of any plan we wanted with benefits as rich as desired, and with a selection of any health care providers we preferred. We could choose our doctors and our hospitals. But what happened?

So they did set up four levels of plans that we could choose from, plus a fifth catastrophic plan as an option for younger individuals. So we could buy a cheap bronze plan that would cover an average of 60 percent of our health care costs, 70 percent for silver, 80 percent for gold, all the way up to an expensive platinum plan that would cover 90 percent of costs. But there would be only negligible differences in the benefits since all plans had to cover the same ten categories of benefits, though some variation within each category is allowed as long as it had the same actuarial value.

But the shocker is the networks that the insurers established. As the AEI report indicates, for plans offered by the same insurer in the same market, the provider networks were just as limited for the high end platinum plans as they were for the cheapest bronze plans. If you want your medical bills paid, you do not have a choice of physicians and hospitals. You have to stay in network. Typically seventy percent of the providers are outside of the narrow network plans offered through the exchanges.

The Remapping Debate report reveals a further complication. Previously plans were available that provided reduced payments for care obtained out of network, with the patient paying a greater share of the costs. Now in areas such as New York City, none of these plans are available through the exchanges. You must stay in network or pay the full bill.

According to the McKinsey report, in some markets plans are available with broader networks, but these are less prevalent and declining in availability, and they are exorbitantly expensive. They will likely be subject to the death spiral since most markets do not have enough super wealthy individuals to maintain a vibrant market of broad network plans. The super wealthy then will simply pay their own bills.

So the Democrats traded off our choice of physicians and hospitals for a choice of deductibles and copayments, as the insurers took away the choices that we actually wanted. The narrow and ultra-narrow networks were a decision of the insurers, not us. We are getting what they want rather than what we want, simply because the Affordable care Act was designed to leave the insurers in charge.

As we’ve said before, all of this would go away if only we would enact a single payer national health program. As PNHP president Andy Coates says, physicians are placed in an “ethical bind” as they practice under “a corporate medical model that threatens to squeeze the humanity out of our interaction with our patients.”

March 21, 2014

Fox commentator admits America has Third World health care

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/16/1285230/-Fox-conservative-commentator-admits-America-has-Third-World-Healthcare

Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show used his wit to force the truth out of Fox conservative business commentator Todd Wilemon. It was a smooth takedown that left the professional in a fight for words.

When asked to name five countries with better healthcare systems than the US, Brock ran off a litany of countries in excess of the five. It turns out the US is ranked 37th in the world.

Mandvi then confronted Wilemon with what he had found out without telling him that the place with Third World healthcare conditions is Knoxville, Tennessee. He told him the place he came back from had shockingly poor healthcare conditions and was still reeling from the loss in the Civil War. One quarter of the people are living in poverty. They have high rates of cancer and heart disease. How did Wilemon respond to that?

“This is how bad it could get,” he said. “If we keep going down the path of more government control, less innovation. I don’t know if we can be that place unless a great catastrophe happens in this country.”

Mandvi tells Wilemon he is talking about Knoxville. Wilemon goes into a 13-second silent panic. “People do fall through the cracks,” he responds. But it gets worse. He starts making comments like, everyone will get care but they may have to wait. Some people will get great health care while some will just get good healthcare. If you are poor, stop being poor. That is the healthcare system Wilemon and his ilk want. That is what Obamacare fixes.


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About eridani

Major policy wonk interests: health care, Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid, election integrity
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