Predatory Health Care

Brian Klepper

Posted 11/17/13 on Medscape Connect’s Care and Cost Blog

ALP_H_BK_0010Recently I was asked to intervene on behalf of a patient who, trapped by circumstance, was paying off an enormous bill for a lithotripsy procedure. What I uncovered wasn’t news, but it drove home how egregious the current system can be, why it so badly needs to be fixed, and how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps move us in the right direction.

The patient had health insurance through her husband’s job. But it was cancelled just after the hospital validated it, because the employer failed to pay the premium. The procedure was performed, and the patient was charged as “self-pay.”

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Remember the Uninsured?

Merrill Goozner

First published 5/10/11 on Gooz News

Amid all the talk about repealing health care reform and the need to change Medicare to a privatized voucher program because of rising costs, one never hears a single word from the deficit hawks about the uninsured. Remember them? There are about 50 million in the U.S., the only nation in the advanced industrial world without universal coverage. And the reform bill signed into law last year would reduce their ranks by about two-thirds. The Republican “path to prosperity,” which would repeal reform, did not even address the issue.

The Department of Health and Human Services today released a report that showed how much those uninsured are costing the rest of us — up to $73 billion a year, most of which is shifted onto the insured in the form of unpaid bills at the hospital. Reform would lower those costs by streamlining Medicare. The Republican plan would charge you higher premiums, unless, of course, they plan to repeal the law that requires hospitals to treat the uninsured when they show up on their doorsteps. Perhaps that’s next.

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Let Them Depend On Charity

Merrill Goozner

First published 3/11/11 on Gooz News

Conservative economists writing in today’s Wall Street Journal dismiss the notion that the cost of providing medical care for the uninsured is eventually shifted onto those already insured. Citing an Urban Institute study that appeared in 2008 in Health Affairs, they claim the total cost shift is 1.7 percent at most, or $80 a year for the average plan. They also dismiss as flawed a Families USA study that found there was a significant rise in private insurance premiums to cover the cost of the uninsured.

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Why Aren’t the Uninsured Protesting in the Streets Like the Egyptians?

MICHAEL MILLENSON

Originally published 2/1/11 on Forbes

Maybe the uninsured could learn something from Egyptians and the Arab street. At a time when landmark health reform granting most of the uninsured access to medical care for the first time in their lives is being seriously threatened, protests by the uninsured themselves are nowhere to be seen.

In 2009, a staggering 51 million Americans from every walk of life and every corner of the nation had no health insurance. The Urban Institute estimates that 400 of them die each week due to lack of access to care. However, instead of pouring into the streets to protest when an activist judge calls the health reform law unconstitutional or conservative ideologues threaten to cut off funding, the uninsured leave the loudest push-back to (well-insured) political partisans.

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