Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gift Idea! Not A Joke!

For that hard-to-buy-for person on your Christmas list, this is bound to be a hit:
Pittsburgh-based insurer Highmark says it has made giving the gift of good health possible with the introduction of its Healthcare Gift Card. While hospitals and some practices already are in the gift-card market, analysts consider Highmark's entry a watershed moment for the health care and gift card industries. Highmark is believed to be the first to issue a gift card that can be used nationally while also intended mostly for everyday health expenses.

How about that! An insurance company profiting off the 48 million uninsured in this country! Who’da thunk it?

Yowzaaa. I do believe we just got bitch-slapped by the free hand of the market.

Analysts agree this trend is reflective of patients shouldering more financial responsibility for their health care. Where they disagree is whether health gift cards are a positive or negative development.

"It speaks to the fact that the current reimbursement system and insurance system is inadequate, that there's a market for these cards," said Mark Rukavina, executive director of the Access Project, a Boston-based group that promotes access to health care. "If we have insurance that was more comprehensive and paid more of the bills, then the need for a card like this wouldn't be as great."

Uh, yeah.

The sad thing is, I’m sitting here thinking of all the folks in my life who would actually really appreciate this gift card--family members, friends. And then I thought, “wow, what a perfect gift for our Room In The Inn guests, too.” The possibilities are endless. I was actually getting a little excited about it.

It’s a really sad state of affairs when the worst possible solution to a national crisis is the best option going. As President Bush would say, "it’s uniquely American.”

(h/t, res ipsa loquitur)