Dear America – We Have A Health INSURANCE System, Not A Health CARE System; They’re NOT The Same Thing

Until we get the framing right, we’ll never fix the problem: our health CARE system is broken because it’s NOT a health CARE system. It’s a health INSURANCE system.

The first question anyone gets asked when they walk into any facility for health CARE isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How ya gonna pay for this?” Right off the bat, that’s ass backwards. The inmates are in full control of the asylum.

No other industrialized nation has a system like ours — where most Americans get their health INSURANCE (not care) through their employer. There’s a reason — and it’s not because we’re so clever and exceptional. It’s a historical anomaly that we’ve simply never dealt with, addressed or even admitted to.

Back during World War II, every available dollar was put toward the war effort. Rules prohibited companies from giving employees raises or raising salaries for new hires. Big companies, wanting to compete for the best employees, needed another incentive so they began offering free health care — well, they’d pay the insurance premiums.

Note — big companies were able to do it because they could afford (at first) to handle the additional admin and cost of running a health insurance program. As the war went on, more big companies offered the same health insurance benefit. Then the war ended… but the health insurance benefit didn’t — even though it should have.

After the war, all those big companies looked to get out of the health insurance business. They subcontracted out the work to the burgeoning health insurance industry to serve as the “gatekeepers” between workers and their health CARE. To keep costs down, the insurance companies eventually cut deals with doctors to get better rates. All very reasonable except that the insurance companies had now created EXCLUSIVITY where there wasn’t any.

Suddenly insurance companies could control which patients a doctor could see. And then they made their gatekeeping integral to the whole health CARE system itself.

Corporations — like health insurance companies — have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders (the preferred class, not the regular class of shareholders) first and foremost. They have NO actual responsibility to “patients”. The insurance company doesn’t actually care what happens to any patient. It’s in their interest to spend the least they can get away with on each patient while collecting the maximum amount of income from him/her.

Is universal single payer perfect? FFS, there’s no such thing as “perfect”. But at least it takes the FOR PROFIT gatekeepers out of the health CARE equation. There will still be gatekeepers for sure — government gatekeepers. But We The People can control how they keep the health care gates for us. We can’t do the same with a corporation.

It is even more absurd to run around all Chicken Little-like about Elizabeth Warren says she’d pay for her Medicare For All plan — without comparing it to either 1) what our current health INSURANCE system costs each & every one of us in cold, hard cash terms or 2) ever asking a Republican EVER what their “health care plans” cost or how THEY might get around to paying for it.

FFS – the Republicans pulled off a massively destructive (to the middle class) tax cut to the rich that they had no intention of every paying for — except by gutting social security and welfare.

America keeps getting tripped up by greed. Greed is what allows Big Pharma to charge extortionist prices for insulin when it’s inside America’s borders and reasonable prices everywhere else.

Greed never makes anyone smarter. It ain’t gonna cure anyone’s ills either.

Hey, America — Here’s A Really Dumb Idea: Let’s Put PROFIT INCENTIVE At The “Heart” Of Our Healthcare System…

There’s a very good reason no other industrialized country has profit incentive built right into its healthcare system: a corporation’s bottom-line fiduciary responsibility is to its shareholders (the ones holding preferred shares, not the poor, dumb humps holding “common” shares) and NOT “health care customers” aka “patients”.

If a profit-driven health insurance company gave in to patients instead of providing a generous dividend next quarter, it might face a stockholder revolt. The price of its shares might plummet — and with it, the value of the company. All because it did the right thing instead of the financially expedient thing.

Ever wonder why pharmaceuticals are so much more expensive here in America than in pretty much any other country? Have you seen Big Pharma’s bottom line? They’re making money hand over fist from ;us. Be thankful you’re not a diabetic in America. The real production cost of a vial of insulin is between $2.28 and $3.42, while the production cost for a vial of most analog insulins is between $3.69 and $6.16, according to the study in BMJ Global Health.

“Anyone with Type 1 diabetes should be able to buy insulin for under $100 per year, including the long-acting forms,” said Andrew Hill, a study co-author and senior visiting research fellow at the University of Liverpool. “Pharmaceutical companies cannot justify charging governments $532 per person per year in the U.K. and $1,251 in the U.S. Yet, they do.

$100 vs $1251 for a year of insulin. That’s quite a mark up for a LIFE-SAVING PRODUCT. Know why that mark up exists? Profit incentive.

It’s the same reason an ibuprofen tablet that costs a few pennies to make costs $100 if a hospital hands it to you. It’s not costing $90 to make, package and transport that tablet. Virtually all of it is profit.

How did we get here? How did we let the biggest wolf of all – the insurance companies — become head gate-keeper in our health care chicken coop? That’s what insurance companies are — they’re gate keepers who get to decide which doctors we get to see. No one — repeat, NO ONE — loves their insurance company. They like that the company — with its clever “plan” — allows them (with deductibles and out-of-pocket costs) to see the doctors they like. They like that the GATEKEEPER says yes.

But the gatekeeper can say no, too. And often does. The gatekeeper can make up all kinds of bullshitty rules to “explain” why we CAN’T have the care we need.

The fact that we have insurance companies as gatekeepers is a historical anomaly. During WWII, all financial resources were poured into the war effort. Companies weren’t allowed to give employees raises. That made attracting new talent to a company (or retaining good talent) harder. To incentivize workers, large companies offered health insurance. People liked it. Why wouldn’t they? More big companies started to do it.

Then the war ended. But the employer-provided health insurance didn’t. In fact, it proliferated despite the fact that it really wasn’t good for any of the companies to keep providing it: it’s expensive — and when you factor in the cost of providing this perk, it makes the good or service that much more expensive. Example — in the competition between Boeing and Airbus to build and sell large commercial airplanes, Airbus always had a huge advantage. The cost of worker healthcare was built into the cost of every Boeing plane — making them more expensive to buy and less profitable for Boeing. Airbus, on the other hand, didn’t have to pay for its workers health insurance — that cost was born by whatever government the worker lived under because that country provided universal singer payer health CARE.

Europeans needing health care get it — no one asks how they’re going to pay for it first. Everyone KNOWS how it’ll get paid for. They skip that and move right on to the health CARE — like they’re supposed to.

America has great health care for those who can afford it. Otherwise, we have a system designed to make rich people richer and sick people die.