Demonization

That is what Democrats AND Republicans do to their opponents, but The Resident has raised this to an art form- Demon for a Day- as if the American public has a giant case of ADD, and can conveniently disremember the previous day’s demon. As his big push for Healthcare sinks, he has resorted to several “demons”- first saying it was obstructionist conservatives (it is true we have objections), then it was “manufactured” mobs at town hall meetings. When it was revealed that it was the liberals who were bussed in, wearing nice uniform tee- shirts that loudly proclaimed their union affiliations, he dropped that canard.

Now it is the insurance companies that have become the boogey- man in this debate, and this characterization comes AFTER the Resident had reached an agreement with both the insurance lobby, and big Pharma to come on board. Boy oh boy, if this is how you treat your friends and allies, I’ll pass.

The truth about insurance, the ugly little secret that Barry won’t admit, is that the insurance companies are supposed to make money. I know- shocking isn’t it? In a capitalist society, for a company to make money is just ridiculous. The fact that they do help people while they make money, seems to be lost in the screaming and demonization that the companies must endure.

Central to this anti- insurance feeling seems to be the practice of dropping people after they have gone through a bout with something like Cancer. I understand- I don’t like it- it happened to me, but I understand why they did it.

Cancer surgery and Chemo and radiation therapy is extremely costly, and insurance companies are prohibited from dropping coverage during the treatment phase, which ensures that the full treatment is administered (it would also be bad publicity). But after the patient has been cleared, the insurance company can declare that it has fulfilled its duty to the customer and drop them from the coverage they had. 

This is because, as we all know too well, the cancer can, and often does return after a remission of five to ten years, and the company doesn’t want to take the risk.

In 1997, I had a blockage in my large intestine- it ruptured, causing pain like I have never before experienced, with the same effects as being shot in the gut. I had to have emergency surgery, and, before all was said and done, three more additional surgeries to get myself back to what could be ( if you really stretched the definition) defined as a normal life. All of this in a year and a half, at what would have been a cost of about $125,000 for the total cost.

And the insurance company stayed with me even after all of that. The company was, if I recall right, United Healthcare- and they were good- they had paid for all my in- home costs for antibiotics that I needed for two months straight, with  home delivery. They were great- and then, in 2000, I found a spot on my arm- you know, the same arm that you prop on the windowsill when you are driving down the road.

Ever since I had turned forty, I had been going to a dermatologist to have a yearly checkup. Being a carpenter, working in the broiling Texas sun for thirty- five years, I figured that checkups were a good idea- and the Doc had showed me to self examine, so I did. One day, I found a spot I couldn’t recall had been there, and it set off bells in my head, so I went and had it removed for biopsy.

I had had others removed before and they were nothing, but two days later, the Doctor called me at work at seven in the morning- that’s not a good sign, by the way- and told me that I had an aggressive skin cancer- dermo- plastic malignant melanoma, and He was going to get me into M.D. Anderson hospital right away, because it couldn’t wait.

Long story short, I had it removed, went through all my treatments, and was declared clear, and at that point, the insurance company dropped me- don’t get me wrong- they had several reasons for doing so, as I was on the insurance through my wife’s employer, and in the middle of all of this she had changed jobs, but we were able to keep the insurance through all of this despite all of the job changing and COBRA paperwork.

The insurance company was very nice through all of this, but I understand why they dropped me. Now- would I like to have had another company willing to carry me? Heck yes- I may understand why a company drops someone, but there should be a pool group for higher risk people,and the insurance carriers could pool money and spread the risk around. They might even have a pool of money to cover emergency room costs, to help defray the cost of those who need those services. If the government would match dollar for dollar what the insurance carriers pony up, we might be able to do that, and that would certainly be cheaper than what they are proposing now.

I am not an insurance person- I wouldn’t know an actuarial table if it bit me, but there should be a way to do this without scrapping the system, because if this current system is totally scrapped, then innovations will be much slower to come out on the market. We will, in effect, be treating today’s illnesses with yesterday’s medications, because there will be no innovations.

And it will be the innovations that will eventually incentivize the insurance companies to not drop people because of high risks-because there will be new, innovative medicines to reduce the risks to acceptable ones. And conditions that were uncurable will become curable.

But only if all the companies can make a profit.

Because Healthcare is not a hobby.
Blake

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2 Responses to “Demonization”

  1. Barbara says:

    At least with the insurance we have now, we are able to get the initial cancer treatment; but, with the government insurance, especially if you are an older person, they will refuse to treat you at all.
    In my book, this is called euthanasia. What you sow, you reap. One day Obama may have a terminal illness that all his money and access to doctors may not be able to cure.