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Duh: Universal Health Care Means LESS Paperwork October 14, 2009

Posted by Bill in health, health care reform, Politics.
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I spent an inordinate amount of time this week dealing with insurance paperwork for my daughter. My 25-year-old daughter has a serious, chronic illness. She moved home about two years ago to go back to school and to focus on her recovery after going into a tailspin when she went off her maintenance meds because she could not afford them even on her insurance plan. To someone who makes minimum wage, a third-tier drug, as the insurance companies like to call it, is next to impossible to afford.

I’ve been carrying her on my medical insurance since she moved home but when she turned 25 this summer, I had to move her to another insurance company, and so the paperwork begins. This week I had to provide a certificate of prior coverage, a list of all the doctors who have treated her in the past year, a statement that she has no other coverage, a signed affidavit that she is a member of the required group for this particular insurance coverage and a consent to release information from the doctor to the insurance company.

Now it shouldn’t take much in the way of brains to figure out that under universal health coverage, four of those five required forms would not be necessary. A universal provider would not need a certificate of prior coverage because… well, think about it folks. Under universal coverage we wouldn’t need to get a new insurance provider to begin with. A universal provider would not need a list of all the doctors who treated her in the past year because it would already have that information. It wouldn’t need a statement that she has no other coverage because why would a universal provider care? And it certainly wouldn’t need a signed affidavit that she is a member of the covered group because, hello– it’s universal coverage. Get it? Now a universal provider MIGHT need a consent form to release information from the doctor to the insurance company, but since she’s seen her current doctors for several years, the provider would already have this paperwork on file and wouldn’t need a new form.

Sometimes I wonder if the health care opponents actually THINK about what they are saying. Physicians for a National Health Program (PNP) found that administration consumes 31.0 percent of U.S. health spending, double the proportion of Canada (16.7 percent). Average overhead among private U.S. insurers was 11.7 percent, compared with 1.3 percent for Canada’s single-payer system and 3.6 percent for Medicare. Their study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine and the results are published on their website.

Consider how much paperwork is involved in maintaining health insurance– and how much paperwork is involved in convincing the insurance company to pay for various procedures and treatment.  Data from the National Health Accounts collected by the Organization for Economic Co–Operation and Development (OECD) show that insurance administrative costs are significantly higher in the United States than in other countries.

Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Feedback  © 2009 RAND Corporation. All rights reserved. 		 	 Percentage of National Health Expenditures Spent on Health Administration and Insurance, by Country, 2006

Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Feedback © 2009 RAND Corporation. All rights reserved. Percentage of National Health Expenditures Spent on Health Administration and Insurance, by Country, 2006

Okay, so we’ve established that Universal Health Care will actually CUT paperwork costs. Hercule Poirot often used to advise Hastings to “Cherchez la femme!” when determining whodunnit. I suggest health care opponents “cherchez la money.” Who stands to lose the most from universal health care? The insurance companies, folks. Why do you think they are pouring huge amounts of money into lobbying against it? The five largest private insurers and the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans spent a total of $6.4 million lobbying elected officials in Congress in the first quarter of this year, an increase of more than $1 million from the same quarter last year.

So a shout out to health care opponents: How does it feel knowing you are playing right into the hands of the insurance lobbies? There may be legitimate reasons to oppose health care reform and/or universal health insurance folks. But claiming that it will INCREASE paperwork is not one of them.


People Really Are Dying in the US October 12, 2009

Posted by Bill in Current Events, health, health care reform.
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There are a lot of people in this country who are opposed to health care reform. They don’t believe it is something the government should be paying for. There can certainly be honest disagreement about what government should and should not pay for.

Personally,  I think it is a crime that in this country, which is one of the richest countries on earth, there are people dying because they cannot afford health care. Our government has plenty of money to bomb the hell out of countries that pose no threat to us. It has plenty of money to provide bail outs to fat cat corporations so they can pay million dollar bonuses. It has plenty of money to pay no bid contracts to Dick Cheney’s ex-employer. But it is willing to let children die because their parents cannot afford to pay for their medical care. I have a problem with that.

Many health care opponents claim that people are not dying in this country due to an inability to pay for health care, however, this claim does not stand up to scrutiny. Here are links to some studies showing how people in the US are dying because they cannot afford health care.

Report by Families USA showing that 1 in 3 Americans is uninsured.

Report from Institute of Medicine

The main findings are that working-age Americans without health insurance have a 25% greater chance of dying and are more likely to:

  • Receive too little medical care and receive it too late;
  • Be sicker and die sooner;
  • Receive poorer care when they are in the hospital even for acute situations like a motor vehicle crash.

A 2009 report from the same organization shows:

For adults without health insurance, the evidence shows:

  • Men and women are much less likely to receive clinical preventive services that have the potential to reduce unnecessary morbidity and premature death.
  • Chronically ill adults delay or forgo visits with physicians and clinically effective therapies, including prescription medications.
  • Adults are more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage cancers that are detectable by screening or by contact with a clinician who can assess worrisome symptoms.
  • Adults are more likely to die from trauma or other serious acute conditions, such as heart attacks or strokes.
  • Adults with cancer, cardiovascular disease (including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure), stroke, respiratory failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma exacerbation, hip fracture, seizures, and serious injury are more likely to suffer poorer health outcomes, greater limitations in quality of life, and premature death.
  • The evidence also demonstrates that when adults acquire health insurance, many of the negative health effects of uninsurance are mitigated.

Report from the Urban Institute estimating that 137,000 people died from 2000 through 2006 because they lacked health insurance, including 22,000 people in 2006.

A report from Families USA showing that uninsured children are more likely to die when seeking treatment compared to insured children receiving treatment for the same conditions.

Some people are not real comfortable with facts. They prefer anecdotes. So here are some anecdotes that illustrate the problem:

From Frontline

In 1994, Nikki White, a Bristol, Tenn., native with dreams of becoming a doctor, was diagnosed with lupus, a serious but treatable autoimmune disorder. Too ill to work, she lost her health insurance for several years, but then received coverage from the state’s Medicaid program. Soon, budget cuts made her ineligible for the state program. A few months later, White was rushed to the ER with severe lupus complications and racked up nearly $1 million in medical bills. She finally secured insurance under the government HIPPA law, but her condition was too advanced, and in 2006, at the age of 32, she died.

From USA Today:

Scott’s son [Devante Johnson] already had advanced cancer of the kidneys in April 2006 when his Medicaid coverage was cut off.

Scott, who has multiple sclerosis, had qualified for Social Security disability payments that boosted her income above the Medicaid level. She fought for four months before her son’s coverage was resumed.

During that time, Devante was switched from chemotherapy to free clinical trials, and his health deteriorated. By the time his insurance was restored, she says, it was too late to help him.

“I’m unsure if they could have done more for him,” she says. If he had not lost coverage for four months, she says, “he wouldn’t have suffered the way he did.”

and from the same story:

[Alyce] Driver’s son, who lived in Prince George’s County, Maryland, had Medicaid insurance. But she had trouble finding dentists who were willing to accept Medicaid’s reimbursement rate. An abscessed tooth led to a bacterial infection in his brain, and he died Feb. 25.

If you go to this site you’ll find all kinds of ANECDOTAL evidence:

Clearly, those who claim that nobody dies in this country for lack of health insurance are wrong. Those who oppose health insurance are comfortable with that fact. I am not. That is why I support health care reform.