Is it really news when health insurance companies mistreat their customers? Today we learn how private insurers are ripping off seniors with questionable Medicare part D scams. This should be a red flag to politicians in CT who have a new health plan—-more public funds to buy private health insurance. Elsewhere, the movement for SinglePayer healthcare gains momentum as SB 840 is considered in California and economists nationally debate the system, while the fight over public health heats up with a nurse-led die-in in Cook County. George Bush’s health plan has just died, Goodyear is sticking employees with more health costs, and one person’s new dental plan: Mexico.
USA Today reports on the latest way health insurance companies make money: sign seniors up for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans…then raise their rates once they’re locked in.
More than a fourth of insurers in the new Medicare drug benefit raised enrollees' annual costs in 2006, often after members were locked in for the year, says Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
"We found costs going up just one month after beneficiaries locked into a plan for 2007," says Bill Vaughan in a written statement from Consumers Union….Mitch Freedman, of Falls Church, Va., agrees. His mother is enrolled in a Medicare drug plan. While pleased with the overall benefit, he was shocked when her Lipitor jumped by more than 100% from 2006 to 2007, even though she stayed in the same plan.
The same thing happened in Massachusetts with Mitt Romney’s individual mandate—every time you carve out a role for the insurance companies, they use questionable practices to suck up more dollars into their overhead. That's why we have one choice: more of the same broken healthcare system, or an end to the health insurance industry.
Remember this isn’t just a business practice; it’s a tragedy. These insurance practices lead to stories like this woman who last year, in the face of higher premiums, could only afford to insure one of her two kids. Which kid would you choose? Her problem was solved this year when couldn’t afford to insure either one.
But here comes the latest group of pro-insurance industry politicians, this time Connecticut Democrats. Their plan to fix the healthcare mess: spend public money to subsidize the purchase of private insurance.
It’s like using cigarette smoke to cure lung cancer: it only makes things worse.
In Chicago, rogue County Board President Todd Stroger continues his jihad against the public health budget. He is trying to close half the county’s health clinics and fire hundreds of caregivers. Not if the nurses have anything to say in the matter—-they held their latest action, a die-in at the Board meeting this morning. Watch this one—this battle will be the turning point in the campaign to protect and improve public health.
California, meanwhile, continues its progress towards SinglePayer healthcare. Columnist Dan Weintraub notes that one plan, Sheila Kuehl’s SB 840 SinglePayer bill, is entirely different from every other insurance-based plan. Schwarzenegger vetoed it last year—and he will face a terrible dilemma when it lands on his desk this year, given his promise to improve healthcare. As Kuehl put it: "The facts are on our side. The people are on our side." Hundreds of patients and caregivers in the state agree with her, as they crowded into a hearing to support the bill.
Nationally, a group of economists debate the merits of SinglePayer, indicative of the growing momentum for this model.
Elsewhere, George Bush’s healthcare plan appears to be a $526 billion tax on healthcare benefits; in other words, it’s done. Despite that, he’s still fighting to cut back healthcare spending, potentially sinking Arnold Schwarzenegger’s healthcare plan along the way. (Although that has already been sunk by Arnold’s inability to find a sponsor, and the plan’s lack of logic, funding, and inability to pass legal muster.)