UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

April 11, 2009

60% OF AMERICANS HAVE TAX PAID HEALTH INSURANCE

Susan L, Daily Kos - The old get Medicare, paid for by taxes. Those in the riskiest line of work, war, get the Veteran's Administration, paid for by taxes. The poor get Medicaid, paid for by taxes. Then we have those who are employed by the Federal government, the states, the county, the towns. Their health insurance too, is paid for by taxes, although the tax money mostly goes towards the profits of the private health insurance companies. So tax money directly pays for medical care of the highest risk categories. We pay high profit to the insurance companies for the prime, low health risks of public employees. Put all the people together whose health care is paid by tax dollars already and we've got about 60% of the population covered.

That means that private employers are paying for only four out of ten people who are insured in this nation. Despite this, they are paying vastly increasing premiums, increasing far beyond the rate of inflation and they are paying these large sums mostly on the lowest risk population. Insurance companies are basing their premiums on the loss of their investments in the stock market, not on the cost of providing health care. If the government collected the premiums on this population instead of the private health insurance companies, the first thing that would happen is that the costs would go down by 30% due to the excessive amount of money spent by the insurance companies on people hired to deny payments to those they insure. The second thing that would happen is we'd be adding premium money to government funds from the people most likely to pay more into the system than they take out.

As our system exists now, the private companies get to keep the profitable clients and the rest are picked up either by the government directly or indirectly, due to failure of the uninsured to be able to pay. The insurance companies, in their never ending greed, aren't willing to concede that they've had a system rigged to make them rich all these years, count their winnings and leave the table. No, they want the system to continue forever, and are unconcerned with the fact that people are dying needlessly due to their greed. They will fight tooth and nail to keep their cherry picked clients and keep the profits for themselves rather than using this extra money to pay for additional coverage, benefits, or reduced premiums.

They seem to have made progress even with Obama, who has given the great insurance company giveaway when the government decided to pay 67% of COBRA fees rather than take the unemployed and put them on Medicare. . .

Faced with increasing health care costs, some policies are becoming too expensive to use, with deductibles in the $10,000 range. This means that the business is paying more, the employee is paying more, and yet they don't actually get health care. Particularly preventative health care. Doctors and hospitals are reporting that even insured people are coming in later in an illness and sicker. Costs of treating such patients can be exponentially more than if they had sought medical care earlier.

Another thing insurance companies do, and are allowed to do, is to tier their premium price to risk factors such as age or previous illness -- so that the premium for someone who is 60 is three times higher than the twenty something who works in the same office. Guess what? This motivates companies to fire or lay off their veteran employees to save money. . .

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