Monday, March 22, 2010

Health care reform passes (again!)

Hearing the tighty righties fuming about the passage of Romneycare and claiming that it will put Obama in your proctologist's office (because, of course, you know that those buck negros just *love* sticking it up tighty whitey asses) is enough to make a penguin laugh. As is the fulmination from the left about how Romneycare will result in insurance company executives coming into your proctologist's office to stick their gold-plated reamers up your ass.

The reality is that health insurers don't deserve the demonization they got from the left during this debate -- yeah, they've done some evil things, but mostly because providers are escalating costs out of control and they're making some boneheaded moves to try to rein in providers. The high costs of health care, as I've previously pointed out, aren't caused by insurers. They're caused by providers who compete based on how many high-tech goodies they have in their offices, rather than on cost, because when your life is on the line you try to get the best doctor, not the cheapest doctor (because your life is literally priceless to you -- if you're dead, what does money count?). The bill caps their MLR's (Medical Loss Ratios) so that insurers will make out okay, but they won't be able to make the sort of huge profits that some people claim will happen. And of course it goes without saying that Romneycare won't put Obama in your proctologist's office. Indeed, for over 90% of those who are currently insured, Romneycare will not make any difference at all -- they're getting insured through their employer, and the only real difference is now their employer will get some incentives to keep providing insurance.

In short, this is a mediocre bill that has some important reforms in it to improve medical coverage -- see the LA Times, Washington Post, and New York Times summaries -- but will decidedly not cause the imposition of a corporate fascist dictatorship or a Marxist Communist dictatorship or whatever nonsense is getting shouted by the extremists. There's a lot of fixes that are going to have to made to the system set up by this bill over the coming years, but there's nothing inherently broken about the fundamental system set up by the bill -- plenty of other countries similarly provide universal healthcare via various combinations of regulation, mandates, subsidies, and private insurers. The sky isn't falling, folks... and shouting that it is, just makes you look like a buncha loons.

-- Badtux the Moderate Penguin

Funniest quote of the day: MITT ROMNEY ACCUSES BARACK OBAMA OF TREASON FOR FORCING AMERICA TO ADOPT ROMNEYCARE. Bwahahahaha! And yes, that's basically what Mitt Romney said. What a dumbass!


  1. penguins rule dude you rock thanks for the economic lessons have been lurking for some time thought I would respond today saw your comment on ornery bastards blog his response was typical people think they do not want government in their lives and you hear that shit all the time but it would be complete anarchy without it and as far as health care why do they accept the arbitrary ravages of private insurance and think government insurance would be worse it just doesn't figure plus contrary to all the fucking lies social security works pretty well fucking repugs wanting to privitize it you keep pointing out their bullshit i appreciate your posts

  2. The reality is that health insurers don't deserve the demonization they got from the left during this debate...

    Depends upon the company. Certainly not all, but I can speak to two in the Philadelphia area.

    While going through a serious medical problem, United Healthcare saw fit to deny payment for a half dozen of my bills. The bills were proper, they had the right plan and member IDs, and my first and last names were spelled correctly. The sin that caused the rejection? The bill wasn't submitted using my middle initial, so they told the providers that I was not a known subscriber. Then they turned around and sent me notice (remember, I'm supposedly unknown to them ... at least when paying bills) that the bills were rejected. This is evil and has nothing to do with cost containment. It has to do with delaying payment, since float is good for them. Meanwhile, the business that submitted the bill gets its cash flow tied up for another few months.

    Since that was long, I'll make the second one quick. A small medical practice we went to was driven out of business by an insurance company that refused to pay for the PPO members the practice had. The insurance company said they had already overpaid. They offered no evidence of that, just refused to pay. They were a major insurer and the practice had thousands of their patients, so the cash flow problems drove a practice of about 20 doctors out of business. After bankruptcy, I'm sure the insurance company settled the debt with some purchaser at a discount.

    They're not all evil, but some truly are.

  3. Still the anti-trust exemption insures many of them have no competitors & so no incentive to not raise premiums as high as they want. Without competition there are few safeguards for the average dude. And the fact that much of this "reform" won't take effect for years means (hundreds of) thousands will die in the interim. Clap clap clap, Mr. President.

  4. Uhm, except for the fact that starting in 2011, MLR (Medical Loss Ratios) will be regulated to 80% for small group and individual markets, and 85% for large group markets? Any excess profits will have to be rebated to the members of the insurance group. So yes, even though it won't add competition, it's *not* just a subsidy for insurers to allow them to charge whatever they want to charge. Besides, competition doesn't work in health care -- as I've previously pointed out, people value their health more than they value money, a stubborn reality that defies those who worship the Almighty Dollar as their religion.

    I'm frustrated by the slow pace at which this law will be implemented too. But it's going to be 100% in effect within 4 years. Given that we've waited 52 years already since Harry S. Truman's universal health care plan went down to defeat in 1948, waiting four years is a whole lot better than what it could be...

    - Badtux the Healthcare Penguin


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