Friday, December 18, 2009

How They Do It In Ireland

Too bad something like this would never work here:
OVER 40,000 people have cancelled their private health insurance following pay cuts and insurance premium hikes.

Some 2pc of the 2.27m people with health insurance have stopped their payments because of the growing pressure on their incomes, an Oireachtas committee heard yesterday.
The story goes on to say that the majority of those cancelling their private insurance policies are under the age of 40, and this will burden the public healthcare system. And the insurance companies are whining that their costs are going up as a result. Well, maybe they need to look at lowering their premiums then.

Of course, this would never work here in the State because unlike Ireland, we do not have a public healthcare system to fall back on. Here in the States, if you don’t have insurance you don’t have healthcare (or you pay two or three times as much for it as you cannot take advantage of the “repricing” agreements insurance companies have with providers.)

So American consumers are basically slaves to our broken system. Because of the insurance monopoly, consumer choice is limited, and when you limit choice, you stifle our voice. Neat how that works out.

Something that seems to be pretty unique in the world is our system of benefit events to raise funds for a family’s medical expenses. Who hasn't seen that tip jar at the gas station cash register with the photo of the adorable little boy or girl needing an operation? Who hasn't heard stories like this:
BETTENDORF, Iowa - Friends and family of a Davenport infant who died less than a month ago came together to help his mother pay for medical expenses.

That just breaks my heart. There is a strong moral component to our healthcare debate that never seems to get into the conversation. Our system is broken, and corporate-tool obstructionist Republicans and Democrats need to fix it or there will be consequences.