Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Kindler, Gentler Version of the Last Post

Putting aside the personal information and the hysteria of the last post, let me see if I can say things in a more diplomatic manner:
  • While insurance companies are not pristine castles of virtue, it is silly to think they are the main problem. The premiums are high and the insurance is difficult to get because hospital-related expenses have gone "through the roof."
  • When people have to pay high prices for insurance, they try harder to get back their "investment," so they are much more likely to file a claim. When an expense is "out of pocket," people will not go to a doctor for a hangnail; when it is not costing them, they will demand a single occupancy room and a specialist for that hangnail.
  • Doctors, hospitals, and health care professionals should be adequately compensated for the service they do for all of us. Healers and protectors have always been the most respected and honored people in our society (look at all the doctor and police TV shows), but when a night's stay in a hospital costs three month's salary, and a routine visit to the doctor's office costs two day's wages, something is wrong.
  • Government-backed health care is a monstruous pool of borrowed and imagined money that can be obtained with a valid Medicare or Social Security card. There's a lot more money to be had by tapping into this treasure house than by charging the normal, traditional channels (such as family funds, etc)
  • Medical institutions are "harvesting" those who have government-funded health care with myriad testing, unnecessary surgeries, and ill-advised replacement processes.
  • If we get universal health care, we will all be treated like they are treating your grandmother right now.
  • The money will run out if we continue to operate in this system.
  • The only way to control the high cost of medical care is to re-insert the most important part of the equation -- the patient himself. Right now, medical institutions deal directly with government and private health care insurance companies to squeeze as much as they can, and when its all gone, then they go to the patient. The patient should be there from the start.
  • No medical institution should be allowed to receive one cent from anyone unless that money has first been handled and processed by the patient.
  • Hospitals have provisions for caring for the uninsured and the poor. I smile every time I hear about one that "lost" several thousand dollars in indigent care. The nearest comparison I can think of would go something like this: I buy some apples and set up a stand on the street corner. I sell the apples for 50 dollars each. If anyone is gullible, dumb, or ignorant enough to buy one, I make my profits. Some people are on corporate expense accounts, and simply slide their credit cards at my corner stand. It doesn't cost them, so why bother worrying about it? One day, a poor, starving family begs me for apples. I give them five, and then I tell everyone I have "lost" 250 dollars through indigent care. Actually, the apples were only a quarter each for me. I was making $49.75 on each one. I "lost" $1.25 when I helped the family, but of course the profits I had made easily accounted for that. Still, I felt it necessary, when I bought my next load of apples, to raise the price to $60 to offset my losses.
  • I somewhere learned that if I sent a $100 bill to the companies with the expense accounts, I could get them to settle for $75, and come out ahead. I also learned that I could then bill the individuals for the other $25, since their coverage only took care of 3/4 of the price I had billed them.
  • My customers, though disturbed, were still relieved that they had "insurance," and that those apples had only cost them $25. They somehow overlooked the fact that I might be getting them for a lot less than that.
  • In the meantime, I had plenty of cash to "expand" my facility. Most customers had to walk around the construction to get to my apple cart. What was I building? More apple display room? No, I was building an apple research institute, a headquarters for meetings with other apple vendors, and a health club where my wealthier customers could slide their cards and enjoy some finer things of life.

When we get "Universal Health Care," the bloated beast that is currently the medical industry is going to grow a hundred times larger. Sure, there will be lots of new jobs, more markets for medicine, and a perceived "growth" in the economy.

But the money is going to have to come from somewhere. I think I know where.

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