The Sage Grouse

Sue Da Feds Sue Da Feds

The big problem with health insurance is that young people who feel they are immortal, hey I remember that, don’t want to buy insurance.  They want to buy bling.

Obamacare is the bling-reduction act.

If the healthy people are not paying premiums, only the unhealthy are.  When the only participants are the costly ones, and the healthy ones are staying out of the pool, it’s a very toxic pool.

Then, young person has sick baby or sick spouse and wants to join the pool; suddenly the payouts jump and the premiums do not.   Insurance company says: Whoa:  We can’t suddenly start paying out $10,000 a month for your kid with spina bifida and wait forever for your premiums to catch up.  Insurance company excludes pre-existing conditions for 12 months until the premiums build a reserve.

“Unfair”, cry Waxman and Pelosi.  Obama, needing momentum, echoes the lament.  He is smarter than that but he needs to ring the bell.  If you are going to energize voters on a topic which is way too complex to reduce to sound bites, you have to identify a target and flog the daylights out of it.  The target du jour is insurance companies, drab accountant-dominated actuaries who balance premiums and wildly escalating health care costs and woodenly raise premiums.

Unfair?  It’s unfair to you, the premium payer, because the insurance company newly forced to take all people with all pre-existing conditions with no exclusion period and no annual limits or lifetime limits, has to raise rates to cover the increases.  That would be MY rates, YOUR  rates.

My thoughts:  first, quit demonizing the insurance companies.  Second, let’s buy a dunce cap for Henry Waxman and another for Nancy Pelosi; they demonize insurance companies to generate momentum for their goals.  I want to see Nancy Pelosi in a dunce cap.  This from a person with a liberal perspective on many issues.

Next, I want to see a study of how much money providers (doctors, therapists, hospitals) waste on paperwork submitted to payors (insurance companies and taxpayers), how much money insurers waste on mailing notices back and forth, how much money is lost when indigent people turn up at emergency rooms for minor problems, how much money Medicaid wastes on free treatment to people with no real problems.  There is tremendous waste in health care.  Finding it is not something at which government is efficient.  Al Simpson to the rescue.

There is more to be said on this subject.  Remember Gramm-Rudman?  The Grace Commission?  Democracy does not work when representatives have to bring home the bacon and simultaneously tell constituents they oppose federal spending.

Congress needs to enact a rule which prohibits members from advocating any measure which benefits their own district.

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  1. Mr. Grouse
    For a sage bird, you sure flap your feathers a lot.

    You won’t get a dunce cap on Nancy Pelosi unless it’s made by Armani.

    Henry Waxman doesn’t wear hats, as far as I know. His constituents like it when he bashes insurance companies, apparently, because he keeps coming back to Washington. If the voters in his district found it so reprehensible to have him in there, he would disappear from the nation’s forefront, so his constituent services must be good enough.

    The prevailing but illogical idea that Congress is going to lead us out of this mess, when it was largely their inactivity and the earmark process that got us into it, is curious, but classicly American, it seems. We are an optimistic lot, in face of contrary facts. Sometimes, it’s just that optimism that lets people “muddle through,” though that is more what we should really expect than a quick fix.

    I love the last line of your piece, where you really reach for the sky. When that happens, your air space will be littered with flying pigs.

  2. Yes, you are a grouse. Paul Krugman is a grouse too, but I think a little more sage. For all the flaws, and he acknowledges there are many, he thinks this bill will work out better than we anticipate. For the moment, I’ll take his judgment over yours.

  3. Dunce caps? Seriously? Recent healthcare reform is obviously not the fix all for a broken system, but it is a start. I don’t know how many will seek insurance only after they get cancer but I bet there are more, like me, who are working on getting it just in case. Pre-existing is not going to break the insurance bank. They will continue to enjoy record profits and continue to raise their rates at a rate that outpaces the rising cost of medical treatment.

    I think that calling for dunce caps should require a much more comprehensive and concise argument on your part.

  4. RT, You have lived in Gillette way too long. Don’t despise Rep Waxman or Pelosi. think of the health plan as no fault insurance with support for the poor.

  5. On the health care issue, Sage Grouse is indeed sage! I’m glad that someone with liberal leanings has finally gathered enough courage to figure out that insurance companies operate by pooling risk just as Sage Grouse pointed out. When they have no low risk buyers then guess what: premiums for the high risk pool have to go up to cover the costs of medical care. Is medical care inefficient and costly? Just spend a while in a hospital and you quickly learn about waste associated with health care. Can such waste be curbed? Not until health care hurts people where they feel it–in their wallets.