29 May 2009

A nation of serfs.

If you had to pay every cent of your healthcare insurance out of your own pocket, could you afford to carry insurance? 
Lose your job, lose your healthcare and abandon all the money you paid into the system forever. Get insured elsewhere and they'll happily take your premiums, but you risk being denied coverage for a claim for "pre-existing condition."
People work jobs they hate or are stuck under abusive bosses just to keep healthcare coverage for themselves or their loved ones because it's otherwise unaffordable. The oppressive expense of healthcare insurance has made us a nation of serfs — and the serfs think they're lucky compared to the poor bastards who aren't even serfs. 
They're right, too. Health insurance is an important benefit that comes with a good job. What's a bad job? One that doesn't have healthcare benefits. Consider this — every time minimum-wage Joe buys a product or service from Corporation, Inc., he's paying toward CI's subsidy of its employee's healthcare. Every time minimum-wage Joe pays a tax, he's paying toward the government's subsidy of its employee's healthcare. Minimum-wage Joe doesn't have health insurance, but he's paying for it anyway.
Why is this so goddam expensive, anyway? If you ask insurance companies, doctors, or hospitals, they'll say "lawyers!" Insurance companies have done a brilliant job of pitting the healthcare industry against lawyers. It's easier and more fun to blame lawyers rather than look inward to discover the incompetent, greedy, or fraudulent practices of one's colleagues. 
Lawyers aren't billing $365 for a pregnancy test or $380 for a bag of saltwater. Lawyers aren't letting people die on the floor after hours in an ER waiting room. Lawyers aren't diluting your chemotherapy meds, leaving hemostats in your abdomen, or prescribing daily adult antidepressants to two-thirds of the elementary school student body. "Well," say the doctors and hospitals, "it's the frivolous claims brought by lawyers that artificially ratchet up our otherwise reasonable costs." Hm, interesting concept, because it's patients who bring lawsuits, lawyers just do the paperwork. Unless the patient is also a lawyer...but you get the idea. No lawyer woke up today and sued a hospital on a lark. In any case, docs and hospitals also employ lawyers to represent them, but I've never heard a doctor or hospital credit lawyers for containing healthcare costs, although every triumph over one of these "frivolous" suits should be considered exactly that. Telling, isn't it?
Some doctors are taking it in the shorts, too. Like healthcare insurance, medical malpractice insurance is expensive and inflationary, and often prohibitively expensive for providers that aren't going to make a shitload of money doing a particular gig. Insurance companies run the same "blame the lawyers" jive to businesses when they demand the annual double-digit employee premium increases too. Then they offer to pay for a "wellness" fair, which gathers a tremendous amount of health info from the employees for use against them subsequently. The insurance company's threats motivate businesses to create policies that dictate what employees can do even when they're not working, and so far no court or legislature has any problem with business' newfound penchant for converting private citizens into corporate property because so far it only affects smokers and fatties, and who gives a shit about them? 
When was the last time you heard about a healthcare or medmal insurer going bankrupt? Meanwhile, medical bills remain the #1 cause of individual bankruptcy filings in the US. 
People have been saying something must be done for a couple of decades. Rather than taking responsibility for their own reform, the healthcare industry has ratcheted up the cash-grab. As long as the money's flowing and politicians are unwilling to challenge a status quo that is very, very good to them, why would they? This is America, Inc. where the object of the game is to pillage harder and faster than the other guy, otherwise he's going to get some poor dumbshit's money before you do.
Beloved and I were talking yesterday about how she expects some movement toward healthcare reform during Obama's first term. I just laughed. The serfs will be persuaded by their insurers to fight against healthcare reform that is in their self-interest. 
The failure to understand the source and extent of one's own power is what makes serfs, serfs.

0 chimed in: