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What's so great about private health insurance?

Original post made by The Fixx, Vineyard Hills, on Aug 3, 2009

Take a look at this article:

Web Link

The bloody battle in Congress over a 'public option' ignores the insurers' role in creating the nation's healthcare crisis and their efforts to throttle reform.

Throughout the heroic struggle in Congress to provide a "public option" in health insurance, one question never seems to get answered: Why are we so intent on protecting the private option?

The "public option," as followers of the debate know, is a government-sponsored health plan that would be available as an alternative to, and in competition with, the for-profit health insurance industry, otherwise known as the private option.

Comments (28)

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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 3, 2009 at 1:24 pm


Will it be for legal citizens of the United States only??

unclehomerr..


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm

NADA in the US is for legal citizens only! Is that cool or what? Yup...it's cool!!!

I spend a lot of my time educating illegals re: how to utilize social service programs, especially health & nutrition programs for children & families.

The lives of all residents in the US must be valued and protected.

VIVA!


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Posted by Kevin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 7:29 am

Regarding the "Public Option" - Basically, American's oppose it for two reasons.

1) We don't trust central command government to do the right thing.
Just take Medicare and Social Security as two examples of government run programs. Both programs are Trillions in debt and essentially bankrupt (without a massive tax increase on the middle class), the government never invested one penny of the money we have paid in over the years to fund these programs. Who is dumb enough to trust the government to properly fund a universal healthcare program?

If there is not enough money, access and quality of service will be reduced.

2) Private Insurance equals freedom of choice. A mandated government option will kill the free market competitive options we all benefit from. The cost will be lower upfront because the government can write checks with no money in the bank and pass the debt on to the next generation or onto us in the form of higher taxes. But, eventually, the supermarket of insurance options you can shop at today will be reduced to only one.

The end result = Less freedom of choice, higher taxes, and rationed or a lower quality of healthcare for all.

A better alternative for healthcare is to allow hard working Americans the same tax deductions business gets for employee health insurance. This would help those of us without employer based healthcare to afford quality insurance.
This would also support all the benefits, choices, and innovation that comes from healthy competition in a free market.

It's a win-win solution







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Posted by Emily
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 8:57 am

Throughout the heroic struggle in Congress to provide a "public option" in health insurance, one question never seems to get answered: Why are we so intent on protecting the private option?

The "heroic" struggle in Congress???? Wow. I tend to save the term "heroic" for what our military, police, firefighters, etc., do, but I guess we're all entitled to an opinion.

I actually think the question has been answered, but you have to be willing to hear it. Americans don't trust their government to get health care right, and we base that mistrust on a long history of inability! There is a laundry list of big government programs that simply do not work. How can you possibly suggest that the government could get this right when they have failed with just about every entitlement program ever tried?

Moreover, just take a look at how well government-run health care works in countries that have it. Can you name one that works well and whose citizens poll and say they like it?

Finally, consider the fact that Congress even knows that the plan they are pushing isn't all that great, as evidenced by their near unanimous resistance to being forced into it themselves. They want to keep their own health insurance intact, yet force a government plan on you and I. Why on earth would you advocate a public option that the people who have the power to impose it upon you won't even sign up for themselves?


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Posted by Julia Pardini
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:16 am

Well, Well, I see Cholo is an educator...could have fooled me. But I understand more about what makes the person tick...and why the positive thoughts about the over-paid BART folks...He/she is just one of those bleeding hearts...instructing illegals on how to screw the system. Shame on you...Cholo


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:47 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Kevin wrote: "Just take Medicare and Social Security as two examples of government run programs. Both programs are Trillions in debt"

This is a circular argument. Medicare's problems have to do with skyrocketing health care costs which also are affecting private health insurance. Did you know that the Federal government accounts for roughly 50% of all health care spending in this country?

Emily,

Say "government-run" health care and suddenly what pops into an American mind is a vision of a government-run hospital. Is that what is being proposed?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:48 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Web Link

"Growth in health care spending has outstripped economic growth regardless of the source of its funding"


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Posted by Dominic DiBlasio
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:55 am

It puzzles me to see how folks can be so misled with the notion that the government getting involved with our healthcare is a good thing.
If this is so heroic, why doesn't the government fix the severly broken systems it already is involved in, Medicare, Social Security, Workman's Compensation, etc., the list goes on and on...

Yes indeed government involvement means less personal freedom, less choice, more bureaucracy.

The thought that the current Congress is "heroic" or stands for anything heroic is hard to comprehend when tested against common sense and history. but of course in this era we don't teach history any longer and common sense has become uncommon.


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Posted by Emily
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:56 am

Stacey,

I've noticed that you're pretty fond of sweeping generalizations (i.e., Say "government-run" health care and suddenly what pops into 'an American mind' is a vision of a government-run hospital), as though you speak for us all.

You ask a lot of questions and post a lot of Web links, but rarely do you articulate a point in any detail. I'm not really sure how your linking to others' ideas adds to the conversation.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:07 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Emily,

I'm asking no more questions than anyone else on this subject. Questions elicit thought. Linking to other websites is a common method of backing up arguments. Think of it like footnotes in an essay.

If you don't like sweeping generalizations, clarify what you mean by "government-run" healthcare. Which countries are you talking about? Or was that just your straw man argument?


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Posted by Kemo Sabe
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:09 am


What do the following have in common?

Amtrak
U.S. Post Office
Medicare
Cash for clunkers

They are all government owned and run and all are or will be flat broke. Do we need healtcare owned and operated by the government?


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Posted by Michelle
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:23 am

Just out of curiosity - if our armed forces & veterans are using the "government run" healthcare system - and it appears to be the best, why is it not good for the rest of America?

I come from a military family - my father & uncles were born at the VA in SF... great hospital. The Healthcare argument is simply going in circles, and will continue to do so as long as false and misleading information is continuously being put out there. It's all about money, not about the welfare of the people. Too many hands are in it.


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Posted by Emily
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:28 am

Stacey,

This will be my last comment to your posts, as it is clear we are are going in circles, and I do not want to fuel the fire any further.

But to answer your question, the other countries I was referring to are countries that already have a government-run health care plan in place. The same countries whose citizens often travel to the United States for in search of effective and timely medical care.


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Posted by The Fixx
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:36 am

Emily,

So should we get rid of the VA and Medicare because they are "government healthcare" right? Good luck telling senior citizens and veterans that they don't deserve "government healthcare" because it so "evil and socialist (big scary words!)".

Funny how conservative politicians that claim to hate "government healthcare" wouldn't dare suggest taking away existing government run healthcare programs.


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Posted by David Cannon
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:39 am

David Cannon is a registered user.

I receive my medical care through the VA (Livermore and Palo Alto facilities). This government run health care (VA) is down right excellent. If the VA medical could be a model for our future health care system then we could look forward to excellent care throughout our long lives. Every now and then the government does something right.


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Posted by D W
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:57 am

I would like to thank The Fixx for asking the most appropriate 'Save From Zero' question.

No, I don't like taxes. And no, I don't like the idea of government taking over health care.

But I do like my current health coverage. I was born in their hospital in Hayward, was served there, and have since been served in Fremont, Oakland, Walnut Creek, and here in Pleasanton. There is plenty of clarity, lots of money saved, and no hotheaded Radical-or-Rush fatmouthed lazy 'loss-of-freedom' comments. I will clearly be allowed to keep this coverage, as well as my dental coverage. The White House has made it emphatically clear that I will be left alone. And I believe it, I see it, and I know it.

The Fixx is right. What is so great about private insurance? What has the industry done to earn our trust? Look at the exact numbers and find out how many LEGAL people are UNINSURED. How wide a gap is there between the haves and have-nots? Yes, we can't trust the government, but why should we trust the 'free market'? Is it really free? Are we sacrificing for nothing as far as our health goes?

The 'free market' has no thoughts, no feelings, and no conscience. Until every single law-abiding citizen has appropriate health insurance and a quality education, these intentionally misleading shout-ins at well-intended town hall meetings are just well-publicized cancers that only look to lazily entertain and to hide us from the painful decisions we as a nationwide community must address - health care costs are too high for everybody.

There is no liberal or conservative to this fact - everybody is suffering from poor service and evil misinformation from both sides of the talk radio ledger. We must go out and prove that we as a whole can rebuild trust in both the free market that provides options and yes, the government that has protected us since 9/11 from disease, discrimination, and terrorism, despite the militant elements that exist inside and outside our borders. Because there are more good people than bad within both the industry and the government at all levels.

These good people are mainstream, clear-headed, and compassionate with a tremendous amount of perspective. They are all in the moderate center of our political body and insurance industry. Unfortunately, the minority number of bad people on each side have too much media or money power, often putting their feet in their mouths by misinforming and perpetuating their own body stereotypes, either by spending too much, disregarding the pre-existing needy, or encouraging lazy all-shout no-action protests because they hatefully disagree with the respective leader on the other side.

Let's stop shouting and start listening. Sadly, most other blogs and a small number here are less interested in real, caring debate and more interested in quick-fix couch-potato entertainment. I thank those who come online and want to make a most positive difference in the lives of people who want better health and education. We need more people like that.


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Posted by Emily
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:58 am

Fixx,

Thank you for making my point with your own question!!! Why should we be telling ANYONE that they have to give up their health care if they are happy with it?


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Posted by MD
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 11:10 am

As a local physician in private practice, government invovlement in health care is a HUGE mistake - and will lower the quality of doctors in our country. No question about it. The average pediatrician in Pleasanton earns less per hour than a Pleasanton teacher. This will go down with government healthcare reform. There will be no incentive for the best and brightest to go into medicine - except for few sub-specialties.

The government needs to not look at the doctors but the absolute robbery of the insurance companies and administration. There is also corruption in large group practices who own their own x-ray/MRI/PT/surgery center - and profit from spending more and more money. Not to mention, the drug companies who spend billions on TV advertisements, convincing Americans there is a medication to fix every problem. We need to spend more on primary care and conservative management and quit encouraging drug use and surgery.

Why don't we add a 'fat-tax' on fast food and soda while we are at it - since these are the leading cause of obesity and obesity costs 1/2 the health care dollars? Oh - I forgot, those companies have huge lobbying power with the govt.

Enough on that. Back to practicing medicine while I still can.


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Posted by Interesting
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

MD,

I also don't want government involvement. The issues with insurance companies alone are enough of an issue. Any government program will make it worse.

For myself, also in the healthcare field, I have reduced my rates and accept cash payment only. This is helping my patients - and relieving stress and cost of billing and not being reimbursed - a huge issue across the board.

I know many clinicians who are doing the same thing. This policy also allows me to charge my patients who are currently out of work the same office price I would've received from the contracted rate of an insurance company. I know I what I have coming in day to day and can make those charitable decisions for myself. Many clinicians I know are doing the same. Cash pay as a $30 office visit for those without a job. I've offered medication samples in lieu of a prescription since they can't afford to fill it. I cannot speak to diagnostic procedures as my practice doesn't require those procedures.

I would like to see my liability premiums reduced which would help me immensely. I have heard zero about how any HC bill will address this. If not, I think this will only encourage an increase in lawsuit abuse, because now instead of an evil insurance company to go after ($$), it will be the ignorant government who won't know any better ($$$$)...


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Posted by marsha
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Marsha Howard If you are concerned that a government bureaucratic might get between you and your doctor, try letting WALL STREET control your doctor. Remember those greedy folks who nearly destroyed our economic systems a couple of months ago? Bet they have a heartfelt concern for your health.

Watch Bill Moyers: Web Link


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Posted by DanU
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 2:35 pm

The American health care system is already 50% government controlled. It's called Medicare and Medicaid, and it is riddled with fraud, waste, and overutilization. The pefect example is McAllen, Tx, where Medicare spends 50% more per capita than in surrounding communities with similar demographics. In spite of the extra spending, the people of McAllen do not have better health or longer lifespans. Medicare spends an average of $15k per enrollee there. The per capita income is $13k. Anyone can see that spending $2k more than you earn is simply not sustainable. Not surprisingly, medicare is projected to go bankrupt within the next decade.

I saw a commercial on TV for free electric scooters for the elderly. They guaranteed that if Medicare didn't cover the cost of the scooter, then they would provide it for free. At first I thought - what a great thing they are doing, helping people out. Then I realized who ends up paying the cost - the rest of us. I also realized that "free" invites rampant waste and overutilization, driving up the cost to us even more.

Perhaps what we need is a model closer to the Singaporean system - where people are forced to save for their medical expenses in Health Savings Accounts, and they only need to back that up with cheaper catastrophic insurance. They figured out that the quickest way to eliminate waste and maximize efficiency is when the spending decisions are made by those whose wallets are impacted first.


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Posted by Joyce
a resident of Ironwood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm

There is NO reason for drug companies to advertise on TV. Not just because it's very costly, but because WE CANNOT write our prescriptions !!!! All it does is stir up hypocondriacs, and seniors (I am one) that will go CHAT with their doctors & beg, whine & DEMAND the latest (most expenseive) pill and the COMPASIONATE doctor will cave in and WE will pay for an UNNEEDED PILL where a generic or none would have sufficed.But, SO WHAT...Medicare (taxpayers) will pick up the tab...NO questions asked. Only Drs can prescribe so OUTLAW TV ads (like no booze ads). The Congress on the take...that is ALL, won't toiuch TV ads. Still have papers & mags...who need help. AND, the BIGGIE, Dems won't touch their lawyers....ABA largest contributor behind all unions public & private...teachers, SEIU, firemen, UAW, etc. Save our voices...we have NONE.


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Posted by sue
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 4, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I just heard on CNN the polls are so bad, all the Dems have to hold open conferences during Aug home vacations.. SO....McNerney should,
......if he were only UP to the job!


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Posted by Kevin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 7:44 pm

The VA "government run healthcare" program is a good question. I would like hear from an actual VA physician. Although, it is well know that the Veterans Administration is one of the most powerful lobbying special interest groups in America. I would also bet the VA Healthcare cost is rising faster than the private sector due to the lobbying. No politician can stand the "Anti-Veteran label" as it will kill their re-election efforts.
I would also bet that the Veteran's unlike the President and the Congress will not be able to keep their current healthcare. Or, maybe they will and the rest of us will be in the bottom at the bottom of the barrel.
Don't get me wrong, I think Vets are the best Americans; but, this is about freedom of choice and the freedom to decide what procedure we are willing to purchase ..... I don't want a that choice or my families health in the hands of some corrupt government political hack.


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Posted by ProVet
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 4, 2009 at 8:17 pm

My dad was a Vet who had his eye operations at the VA. My uncle retired from the Air Force. My husband is a vet - served in Vietnam. However, I like private medical care and some HMOs quite a bit (have used 2) and others not so much (would never sign up with them and have friends who had no choice). I've also gone the completely private route. Personally, I'd like to see both.

The VA can be very good. My uncle went to Fort Mead. However, some VAs are really doing a disservice to our vets. Disgusting! I've heard horrific stories from parents whose family are on MediCal - my Girl Scout troop a number of years ago.

My family also lived abroad and I was on National Health. Private MDs were required to have 20% of their time allocated to NH. Some MDs were solely NH. (I have no idea about DOs - didn't know any until my sister became one in NYC - now in NJ). Wait times for "elective surgery" were long - any hospital stay was triaged - so the sickest got the quickest treatment. My son's "elective surgery" in February would not have been "elective" if we had waited until summer break according to our HMO MD here.

Perhaps what needs to be addressed: patient/family expectations; malpractice lawsuits (my dad had a good case - he said it wouldn't save his life, would ruin the young MD, and this MD was bringing Hospice into the rural area where they lived - 1986 - this MD had no suit filed; my DO sister pays plenty for malpractice insurance); incentives for medical providers/pharmacists/etc.; pharmaceutical charges; .... You get the picture.

Just as I am not encouraging my kids to get into software (I've trained H1 visas to replace me more than once), my sister, the DO, is not encouraging her kids to get into medicine; whereas, I'm encouraging my daughter to explore the possibility of physical therapy.


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Posted by To ProVet
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Sorry to only pick up on one line of your post, but I felt compelled to tell you that I wouldn't steer your daughter into PT. As a therapist myself. the academic standards are ridiculous for the resultant pay. Depending on if you work with neuro rehab patients or sports injury recovery it is all insurance reimbursement based and if you don't get reimbursed, you don't get paid. Plus, you basically get told what to do by the MD.

Private PT companies rob you blind and work you to death to get the percentage they want out of you. Unless you are in private practice yourself with an OT or a Speech Language Pathologist in a team setting, you rarely - if ever - see profit.


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Posted by To ProVet
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention that all this is the result of managed care that got nervous when Clinton proposed his health care plan. thousands of small hospital settings kicked out therapists from their direct employ because of the risk of reimbursement. This shifted therapists into the employ of therapy companies. Not good for anyone.

Thanks, Bill!


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Posted by Healthcare Professional
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2009 at 12:47 am

To ProVet

PT is a great field, lots of job satisfaction, and while "To ProVet" is right that there is now a higher cost because of the DPT, the job security and flexibility cannot be beat. She won't be rich, but she'll earn a good living and always have a job.

To "To ProVet"

Sounds like you are not in a good situation. But private practice is not the only option, hospital based care is another. If someone wants to go into business (private practice), that's the risk they take, just like any other. But I don't follow your line of thought on the hospitals kicking out therapists. What DOES hurt the profession is joining MD practices or these larger companies for the lure of a buck.


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