Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Polly . . .

I subscribe to many industry newsletters in an attempt to keep abreast of this changing market. One such publication is The Industry Radar.

Recently they posted a link to an article penned by an Episcopalian Priest. "Polly" was a parishioner who died following a massive stroke.

Polly was a hard worker who paid her bills on time. Including her medical bills.

But Polly was uninsured.

The priest hits many of the points viewed by many as justification for a universal health care system.

Alleged price gouging, cost shifting, cost containment, social conscience.

Let's examine a few of the comments.

I saw some of Polly's healthcare bills before she died. She was charged the highest possible rates that her hospital and most of her providers could charge. I know because I carefully track my own, everyday costs—and I am reasonably healthy—and I saw the difference that the same hospital charged Polly and what they charged me and my insurance company, and what my insurance company and I actually paid.

This seems to be a hot button for many.

Carriers negotiate a lower rate in exchange for prompt payment . . . in full (at the negotiated rate).

Individual's can do the same.

More often than not, the amount actually COLLECTED by providers is far less than is billed, and less than carriers pay.

The amount billed for services is truly a non-issue.

The real issue is how much is collected.

Between the two of us, I was the lucky one. Not only do I have insurance, but generally I do not have to pay the difference between what the hospital charges and what the insurance pays,

Why is it that those with insurance are "lucky" while those without are not?

It is mostly a matter of personal decision, not luck.

Those without the "buying" power of a group pay full freight because they cannot negotiate a “discount.” That means the uninsured. That meant Polly

We are not told how much Polly actually paid, only that she had unpaid bills after her death.

If her situation is typical, it would not matter if the bills were discounted 50%, 60% or more.

She still would not have paid anywhere close to the "negotiated" rates, much less the full amount billed.

Most uninsured's pay around 10% of the billed amount.

If we as a society are going to seriously and adequately address the health-care crisis in this nation, we will have to come to terms with the moral question of how we all share in the cost of each other's care. Are we responsible for each other, or not? Do we have obligations to each other, or not? We will bear, even on the most minimal level, each other's burdens, or not?

The real question is, how do you want to pay for the uninsured?

Changing the game to have health care covered by taxes is just rearranging the deck chairs.

It accomplishes nothing.
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