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More corporate talk

Great excuse for a new post: long comment by my mom in my last post. It’s a good read and further demonstrates the corporate problem.

In a lot of sectors, the free market no longer works because consumers no longer have a choice. This is especially true in health care. IF we are employed, our employer buys the insurance.

I don’t want government to run health care either, mom. And I had a big argument with a friend of mine about that very thing. She is convinced we need universal health care even if that means the quality of some of our health care goes down. I don’t think she realizes what that will really mean.

You complained about the prices the hosptials charge non-insured patients. There are two things involved:

Insurance companies negotiate prices that are, sometimes, actually below the cost of the service. Then the government’s EMTLA, where hospitals MUST accept cases in the ER if the patient thinks it is an emergency, has lots of non-paying people come in for non-emergent conditions. But the ER can’t easily deny them, because that puts their accredation at risk and makes them open to a lawsuit. And many people are starting to use the ER for primary care, most especially those on medicaid who never have to pay any bill.

Medicaid and Medicare are the biggest negotiators and the ones most responsible for prices that barely or don’t cover costs. Private insurance often follows their set prices.

The non-insured patient who will actually pay their bill, that is why it is so expensive.

That and, of course, the corporate running of hospitals. My post wasn’t limited to insurance companies.

Some of the remodelling going on at our hospital is the result of a very quickly growing community. A few years ago they opened a cath lab, bringing that technology 30 minutes closer to everyone in our area, which is really a boon especially as our neighborhood ages. They are undergoing the second increase in their women’s center in 10 years, because they are full to capacity and beyond too often.

But then, they put up this stupid sign. I don’t know how much it costs, but it doesn’t benefit the patient one bit and I question how many patients it has brought in. It breaks down every few weeks too, and they fix it. Oh yeah, and it is advertising their great new imaging machine.

But then, this hospital didn’t have a chance against the monolithic IHC here. Another corporation bought them up. To stay open, they have to advertise and build just to keep up against the IHC bully around here. IHC is a non-profit but it does not shift it’s profit in favor of the poor or uninsured who are willing to pay. It is either dodge the bills or pay the high prices. They have many for profit subsidaries.

My answer, is that it is time to reasses public corporations as a whole. The system is broken. It used to be that people invested for long term and often for the general good. Utilities were concidered good investments. Now they want a quick buck. Lots of pressure is put on a company to cut costs or increase prices in order to increase profits.

Let’s see what this gets us. Officially, we are insured but our deductible is 2,500 now. Something is going to have to go really wrong before insurance starts paying out. Oh yeah, and those high deductible plans are more expensive than the no deductible plans of a few years ago. We looked around, hoping we could find a better one. The game is no longer fair. The insurance companies are posting record profits. 

Because the insurance company had to make more profit, they hiked up the rates. Because the company my husband works for had to make more profit (at the urging of its shareholders) his employer negotiated lower costs for the company, and higher costs for the workers. Without giving the workers a raise. We can probably manage it. But they also employ a very large number of factory workers making far less than we do.

What if, rather than paying for insurance directly, the employer payed an insurance allowance and let consumers shop around? Insurance prices would drop. This would allow the free market to reestablish itself in favor of the individual consumer. What if states did not allow insurance companies to deny health coverage and required scaled rates for lower income families? Like car insurance? What if the government capped insurance rates, but allowed insurance companies to accept donations from people who were better off to help those who weren’t?

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