Monday, April 24, 2006

Our Healthcare System is Broken

When health care is ruled by insurance companies whose first goal is profit, patients suffer. We need a national single-payer health care system now.

Op-ed in yesterday's LA Times by writer and blogger Cathy Seipp:

Battling cancer -- and Blue Cross
By Catherine Seipp, CATHERINE SEIPP writes a weekly column for National Review Online and blogs at

[]I'm a Blue Cross problem member — the kind who actually uses the valued benefits. So I don't really care about premiums; I was just relieved that my yearly out-of-pocket cap, which jumped from $5,000 to $7,500 in 2004, didn't go up yet another 50%.

Without me, Blue Cross' parent company, WellPoint, which reported a $2.5-billion profit last year, could have seen a profit of $2.5 billion plus about $50,000.
I was diagnosed with advanced, inoperable lung cancer in 2002 and so now typically reach my $2,500 individual deductible by January and my out-of-pocket cap by February.

By law, insurance companies aren't allowed to adjust your monthly premiums just because you get sick. But they can raise the out-of-pocket cap for all of their members anytime they like, which amounts to the same thing because it affects only the unvalued sick members. (And, of course, getting sick means that even while one's medical costs go up, the ability to pay goes down — earnings potential is curbed when life becomes a series of treatment appointments.)

Lucky you, if you don't know what your out-of-pocket cap is. And if you're like every single healthy person I've queried, you probably don't. But you should know, because the out-of-pocket cap is the most important part of your policy, meant to stave off financial disaster in case of catastrophic medical expenses.


What I didn't realize at the time was that I'd turn out to be my insurance company's worst nightmare — the cancer patient who keeps responding to extremely expensive treatments. I only hope that Blue Cross doesn't turn out to be mine.

This is how Cathy Seipp titled her story on her blog -- more direct, more dire:

Blue Cross to me: drop dead

BusinessWeekOnline: UnitedHealth panel may face scrutiny

The CEO of United Health Group has been granted $1.6 billion dollars of options as part of his pay package.

I saw Cathy Seipp's story on dailykos:

dailykos: Extremist NRO columnist battling cancer & Blue Cross

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