Saturday, April 3, 2010

Coverage Without Care: What's to Oppose in the New Health Care Bill. part I

OK, so last week, in all fairness, I pointed out that the health insurance bill does contain some provisions that will help people--especially really poor people or really young adults (26 and under). In general, however, the national health insurance plan follows the path already trod in Massachusetts. Having lived under it, the Massachusetts plan is not one I would recommend.

What's wrong with it? Plenty. Let's start with one issue I have been observing for almost a year now: coverage without care.

I wrote on May 4, 2009, "Across Massachusetts, people are facing a stark choice: pain or poverty. The mandatory health insurance law forces people to buy some kind of coverage, but often, what people can afford won't pay for the care they need. In today's Boston Globe, Judi Campbell of Northampton says she's putting off hip surgery because she already owes the hospital $1,000 for arthritis-related surgeries her insurance wouldn't cover."

"And yet the Globe and many policy makers proclaim the "success" of the Massachusetts health insurance plan. For shame!"

On June 21, I wrote:

"The Globe reports:

People with robust [sic] health insurance are putting off doctors’ appointments and skimping on prescriptions because they can’t afford the increasing costs of copayments and deductibles, according to managers of patient-assistance hot lines in Massachusetts.
"All right, let's give the reporters credit. Never mind the logical impossibility of health insurance plan being "robust" if you can't actually use it. (The operation was successful, but the patient went broke?) Also, forget about the fact that this only becomes news when it affects middle-class people, the kind who thought they were already well insured. "

"Let's be happy that finally, it's front-page news that the Massachusetts individual mandate to buy health insurance is failing to deliver actual health care to a large and growing number of people. The key word here is "failing." This is not a model for national health insurance. It's an object lesson in what happens when the hospitals, insurance companies, and doctors all design a health plan without the slightest thought for its effects on actual patients."

Next installment: how the Massachusetts health insurance plan is Robin Hood in reverse--and the federal government follows suit.

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