29 June 2011

More Docs Reject Privately Insured Patients!

A study expecting to find even fewer doctors willing to accept new Medicare patients found, sure enough, a modest drop in that percentage. But the shocker was a far steeper decline for doctors willing to accept privately insured patients.
The study shows 93.3 percent of doctors accepting insurance for payment in 2005, and 87.8 accepting insurance in 2008.

The drop for those accepting Medicare coverage during the same time was 95.5 percent down to 92.9 percent. Not the huge difference the right-wing media has been harping about - and they seem to have missed completely the fact that some doctors turn away patients wanting to pay with private insurance.

I first heard of this a few years ago with a doctor in Fort Collins, Colo., who wouldn't accept private insurance. He said he did so so he could practice medicine instead of argue with bureaucrats whose primary concern was profit, not patients. The insurance companies also didn't pay him enough - and he's a family doctor, not a country-club suburban specialist.

Dr. Tara Bishop's study was in the 27 June 2011 Archives of Internal Medicine. She's assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College and practices at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Bishop is concerned that the growing numbers of physicians saying no thanks to insurance companies could bollocks up President Obama's reform - which depends on everyone buying private health insurance from this deadly industry.

It's one more reason to simply expand Medicare to cover everyone.

There are economic sectors where the free market delivers most effectively, no doubt. Manufacturing computers and running casinos come to mind. Other tasks - like covering the cost of health care, fighting fires, policing our communities, educating all the children - societies that tax themselves to provide those services for all come out ahead.

Pretty simple. You want the Pakistan model or Paris?

21 June 2011

Ave Cassandra Is Back

Back in 2007 or 2008, a marvelous guy running for state representative here in Colorado sat down and talked with me about universal health care. Joe Miklosi is a smart progressive who already knew that the U.S. system is fatally dysfunctional. So I was preaching to the choir.

But at the end of our talk, he did something no one else had. He gently touched my arm and asked me if I was taking care of myself - or if I was reopening a wound every time I shared my brother's story. Hmm. I assured him that working for health care reform was my way of working through my grief - so that no one else would have to lose someone the way we had, etc.

Hmm. In fact, I was pouring salt in the wound on a daily basis. As it turns out, I'm also very bad at organizing and activism. You have to be well organized and optimistic to be good at activism!

So I quit. And now I'm back, but just at Ave Cassandra, not at Health Care for All Colorado, a great group of activists but not for me. I'm not going to post every day, and no more salt, no more activism. I'm just going to pay a bit of attention again. And share the good stuff. And continue to urge my adult children to emigrate to a country with social policies that demonstrate concern for community, including people who are sick. WWJD and all that.

Second Amendment Health Care

Richard Verone had a growth in his chest, ruptured disks, and no health care. Typical 59-year-old American. Not the majority, but typical. He figured his care might take three years. So he robbed a bank.

Not so that he could get the cash to go to India for care, or to buy into the expensive insurance for folks with pre-existing conditions. Both of those options might cost more than the bank even had on hand, and besides, someone might get hurt. Think it through: all kinds of things could go wrong. Just the time in jail would do it, he figured. So he handed a note to the teller that demanded $1. The note said he was armed. Then he sat down and waited for the police.

The fly in the ointment is that, according to news reports, he's very likely to get just 12 months, not three years. He wasn't carrying a gun, so it's a lesser charge. Kind of unAmerican of him, now that I think about it. What - he's not in favor of the Second Amendment?