So I jumped through the looking glass the other day. I spoke to our insurance company. Although the woman I spoke to was very nice, I felt at times like I was talking more to the Mad Hatter than a respected insurance provider.
Every American is being held hostage by the largest special-interest group in the history of the world. These articles tell the story of how we got into this mess and will help you understand the mind-boggling magnitude of the problem. It’s a life and death battle for the health and welfare of each of us. And guess what? We’re not winning.
The health care and insurance industries in America need a reboot. As we’ve seen over and over, Americans are getting screwed instead of getting healed. But if all we’re doing is adding one more big insurance operation to the mix, we’re missing something really fundamental. The whole concept of insurance isn’t working here.
Clearly, the insurance system is a failure for vast numbers of Americans. That’s why it’s particularly disturbing that the Senate’s new health care bill appears to be putting even more faith in the insurance companies.
There is a concept in the insurance biz called rescission. It’s the insurance world’s equivalent of a marriage annulment, allowing an insurance company to back out of an already-paid insurance policy and deny the policy holder insurance coverage. If you have a serious medical problem, you stand a better than even chance of losing your insurance and never getting paid. And if you don’t work for a major company or the government with a good group policy, your chances go up to virtually 100 percent.
Insurance coverage is another myth. We’ve all been led to believe that as long as we have insurance, we’ll be taken care of. As insurance rates go up and up and up, we’ve been promised that even though it costs a lot more, it’s worth it because our future is being assured.
No profession knows more about the quality of patient care than nurses. In a July 2009 survey of more than 15,000 nurses nationwide, 70 percent said the staffing for their unit or shift was insufficient. Worse, 49.5 percent said they “would not feel confident having someone close to them receive care in the facility in which they work.”
Since America spends far more on health care than any other country, it stands to reason we should be healthier here than people are anywhere else in the world. But are we? Is our health care system working so well, it’s worth the vastly greater cost?
In recent weeks, members of the GOP seem to have constantly insulted our civil servants. They’ve complained government-run health care might be like the post office, full of inefficiency. No one ever accused America’s post offices of perfection, but the Fedex guy recently delivered my wife’s birthday present to a house down the street. He eventually figured it out and brought it here, but Fedex isn’t perfect either.
It costs the typical American employer eight times more each day to pay for an individual employee’s health insurance (and that’s before wages) than it costs to employ a “middle class” Chinese worker, wages and everything.
So 75 percent of all U.S. companies aren’t even in play for health insurance and of the remaining 25 percent, half of those are very small employer companies and only half of those offer health insurance. All told, only about 12 percent of U.S. companies actually offer health insurance to employees.