We come bearing gifts

trojan-horseOver the weekend I heard stunning news: many of the nation’s largest health care organizations are banding together and offering to help President Obama reduce health care costs!!

That they’ve gotten together and made the offer, I can believe. That they really want to help … bullshit. These are the same groups that have been milking America’s health care system for years; they’re only trying to save their own skins … er, profits. They see that the president is serious, they sense that change might be coming this year, and they are now — now that the gun is being aimed — offering to “help.”

The letter to the president was signed by executives of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a trade group for insurers; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA); Advanced Medical Technology Association, a lobby for medical device manufacturers; the American Hospital Association (AHA); the American Medical Association (AMA); and the Service Employees International Union.

Looking at that list, you can draw your own conclusions.

Lobby groups, trade groups, and unions exist solely to reap bennies for their members. You can bet these guys are no different, and they aren’t in this to give anything away. Big Pharma’s reputation is well known, as is my opinion of them (see previous posts). And the last time I looked, the shrinking AMA had become little more than a PAC for doctors — and fewer than one-third of the doctors in the country, at that.

Bottom line, we know we need what these groups provide. But so do they. And they aren’t in business to give it away.

Or, as fellow cynic Paul Krugman put it:

“Remember that what the rest of us call health care costs, they call income.”

3 thoughts on “We come bearing gifts

  1. Oh jeez. To be honest, I’ve been trying not to pay attention to this whole mess because I don’t want to have a heart attack – not the health care issue alone- the whole kit-and-kaboodle! Seems to me, each day things just become more of a mess, more tangled, etc.

    GAH! I don’t understand, and cannot even wrap my mind around how this is ever going to work out. It’s just sad.
    I don’t really understand it either. Commentators keep talking about single-payer not even being on the table, when (they say) it should be. (Medicare is single-payer and seems to work pretty decently, although it doesn’t pay nearly as much as some of the private plans I’ve had in the past, and at a time in my life when I most need good coverage). I saw a doctor arguing for single-payer get tossed out of the committee room where all this was being discussed. I sure don’t understand why doctors aren’t front and center in the discussions … and patients, too. I don’t really trust anyone to have my best interests at heart; everybody’s in it to make a buck.

    I heard one guy explaining a system where every individual would get to buy his or her own insurance. That sounds like a disastrous idea to me. Choosing the right health plan from the right company is one of the most intimidating, complicated things I’ve ever tried to do — and the consequence of a bad or wrong decision can be catastrophic financially. I can’t believe anyone thinks everyone in the country is capable of finding the his own way through the bureaucratic jungle out there. Besides, we all know — under the current system, anyway — that premiums are a lot lower for group coverage than for individual.

    Opponents say single-payer will leave you with Washington bureaucrats making your health care decisions, but if insurance company bureaucrats are going to dictate our care, I don’t know that it matters where they live. I just wish the system, whatever it is, would leave the decision-making to the doctors and their patients. Your car insurance company doesn’t tell you you can’t get a brake job this year; your home insurance company doesn’t tell you what color to paint your house, or limit how much you can spend on a new furnace. Why should a health insurance company get to tell you which pills to take or what surgery you can have?

    But of course, if you are independently wealthy, like so many of those Washington types, I suppose none of this really matters. You can pay cash for whatever you need, once that little insurance card gets you through the door.

    In any case, they won’t be out here in the heartland asking what we the patients want. They’ll just be telling us what we can have, and how much it will cost us.

  2. Let me oversimplify the crap out of it. No aspect of health care should be a profit industry. And our concept of what constitutes “health” has gone well beyond the pale. Big Pharma sells us symptoms and diseases with their advertising. It’s NOT OK to sneeze, cough, or itch. You might need to take a pill. Right away. But be sure to tell your doctor if you have liver problems. Oh wait, isn’t my doctor supposed to tell ME that sorta stuff?! WhatEVER. We’re all going to die anyway. Just make sure your heirs don’t get stuck with your lousy funeral expenses. The height of rudeness that is.

    Nice choice of image PT! 🙂
    You nailed it with your first two sentences. As for Big Pharma … just thinking about it makes my blood pressure go up. And the funeral expenses … I’ve got cremation on the docket.

  3. Sing it! I am soooo not looking forward to dealing with the U.S. health care system again. Dealt with it in December of 2007 and am STILL getting annoying calls on behalf of one doctor who did not code her bill correctly. Hey, too bad, so sad, fill out your paperwork correctly and the All Powerful Insurance Company would have paid you. If you don’t like the All Powerful Insurance Company to be All Powerful, then do something about it.
    It’s not like we the patients put this cockeyed system in place. Let the bureaucrats duke it out. As for the doctor not coding her bill correctly, see my post on computerizing doctors. The ICD-9 coding system is part of the problem. Not everything that can go wrong with or be done to a human being can be reduced to a single number. My theory is we got stuck with this mess because all the Washington lawmakers are fat, happy, stinkin’ rich, and up to their eyeballs with all the medical care they need, so why should they give a rat’s ass about the rest of us.

... and that's my two cents