Since consumer driven health care, and especially HSA’s, tend to be a focus here at InsureBlog, such plans also tend to draw a lot of fire. We get a lot of comments deriding them, claiming that they benefit only the rich and/or healthy, and do little (or nothing) to solve the “problem” of the uninsured.
When such commenters (or other bloggers) deign to suggest a solution, it is almost invariably in the form of some kind of government-based plan. The implication is that only the gummint can reign in costs and/or decrease the number of those who remain uninsured.
Rarely (if ever), do these folks point to great success stories of nationalized (or socialized, or, well, you pick the adjective) medicine. Perhaps that’s because of real life examples like this:
“Maine is the home of Democratic Gov. John Baldacci's Dirigo Health, which regulates the state's health-care system and includes a subsidized health-insurance program...When the law creating Dirigo Health was signed, proponents said it would reduce cost-shifting and health-system costs and ultimately cover all 130,000 uninsured Mainers within five years, including 31,000 uninsured in year one."
Sounds good so far, no?
Well, not so fast:
“Through the first nine months only 1,600 previously uninsured individuals enrolled in Dirigo Health's insurance product, called DirigoChoice. The other 6,000 who enrolled simply traded their private health insurance for taxpayer-subsidized DirigoChoice. The program continues to spend millions subsidizing insurance for those already insured.”
The premise underlying DirigoChoice was that the plan would save money AND cover the uninsured. But it has done neither. And who’s stuck with the bill? Yup, you guessed it: Maine’s taxpayers.
Now, Maine is, of course, a part of New England. They could solve a big part of the DirigoChoice Dilemna by emulating a new trend in (Merry Olde) England:
"Despite health officials' contention that decisions about treatment are based solely on clinical effectiveness, critics contend that with drugs growing ever more expensive, cost has become an increasingly important factor...But Herceptin is an expensive drug, costing $36,000 to $47,000 a year for each patient, and the health service has finite resources..."
You can already see where this is going:
"But the Swindon health service has a policy of allowing its use for early-stage breast cancer only in "exceptional circumstances," and her doctor said that her case was no different from those of "the 20 or so other residents in the Swindon area in the same position." He urged that all the patients be given the drug. The health service rejected the recommendation."
So, there you have it, the perfect solution.