Monday, August 24, 2009

The Cost Of Profit In Health Care

by Ron Powell

On several occasions I have written about the matter of health care reform and have indicated in posts and comments that there can't be true reform of the healthcare system without removing profit and the profit motive from the equation. At the moment the debate and discussions center around reduction of costs and the notion of a "public option" being the primary element in any proposal that purports to reduce the costs involved in the delivery of health care services.

It has been my contention that "costs" are the euphamism or code for profits. In other words, I believe that if we can reduce or eliminate profits we can reduce or eliminate costs. This is what the insurers and providers are acutely aware of and are fighting against. They know that when the government gets involved the gravy train will come to a screeching halt.

Over the past several years the insurance companies have reaped record profits without any improvements to the system of health care. How does this happen? It happens in any number of ways: increase of premiums, increase of deductibles, increase of co-payments, denial of coverage, cancellation of coverage and the denial of claims. All of this is designed to enhance revenue streams while reducing or eliminating risk by reducing or eliminating the obligation to make payments within the context of the language of health insurance contracts.

If you have health insurance my suggestion is to read it, all of it, especially the fine print. You may discover why many of the people who have been driven into financial ruin as a result of a catastrophic illness, are people who have health care insurance.

Having a health care insurance policy is not the equivalent of having health care coverage and that is where the mother load of profits are for health care insurers. I am a veteran so I'm covered with a government financed/controlled option and in a couple of years I will qualify for medicare as well, so I'm good to go.

However, there are a vast number of people between the ages of 25 and 65 who are paying for health care insurance, either directly or through employer group plans, for whom the insurance companies do not intend provide coverage i.e. payment on claims.

Banks and credit card companies have been loan sharking for years. The health care insurance companies have been engaged in a protection racket also designed to cheat and gouge the public. When all is said and done, reform of the way in which business is done in this country will require revisiting the notion of what is legal and what is not.

The conservative element has had decades to undo what had been done to ensure that the public was protected from unscrupulous business practices. The process of the systematic deregulation and removal of controls from profit-driven free market enterprises that are built on public trust and confidence must be reversed. In order to restore sanity to the debates and discussions the 900 pound profit gorilla has to be removed from the room or it will continue to wreak havoc and nothing will get done, nothing will change and we all know we can't afford that.

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