Past time to try to solve this


I’m looking at three letters from my health insurance company. Make that my ex-health insurance company. The first tells me I’m getting a rebate due to overcharging, the second that they’re going to increase my premium by 19 percent, the third that if I love my policy it’s grandfathered in and I’m spared the horrors of Obamacare, i.e. having them actually pay for something. At least they’ve got a sense of humor.

There’s been an overabundance of disinformation, misinformation, and plain old fashioned bald faced lying about the health care crisis, so to help I’ve ginned up a simple six question quiz, complete with attributable facts, to cut through the bovine excrement. The glory of it is you need know absolutely nothing about health care, medicine, or economics to answer the questions.

Here we go.

What industry, according to the Wall Street Journal executive compensation study, has the highest paid CEOs? (This isn’t the quiz, the first question follows hereafter.) You might guess the financial sector, with all the high rollers. Wrong, grasshopper. Health care.

Q1. Health insurance companies are:

A. Altruistic, charitable institutions, whose primary concern is relieving suffering humanity.

B. Businesses, whose primary concern is making money.

Thirty-two million Americans don’t have health insurance. Some can’t afford it, some who can afford it claim they shouldn’t be required to have it.

Q2. People who can’t afford it:

A. Are lousy, no good, rotten bums.

B. There, but for the grace of God, go you or I.

Q3. People who can afford it but want to chance not having insurance:

A. Have a crystal ball with which to see into the future.

B. Are just as likely to become ill or injured as anyone.

Hospitals are prohibited by law to refuse care to anyone.

Q4. When someone who has no insurance sticks a hospital with a big bill, the hospital beancounters:

A. Say “Shucks, darn, and drat it all, we lose today.”

B. Pass on the costs to those who can pay, that is to you.

According to a 2007 Harvard University study, 62 percent of bankruptcies have medical causation, and 78 percent of that 62 percent had health insurance.

What’s the cost, you say? Let’s be conservative. 43 percent of bankrupts say the sole cause of their bankruptcy was due to a medical problem in their family. The mean cost of those bankruptcies was $44,622. There are approximately 1.5 million bankruptcies annually. So the yearly cost is around $28 3/4 billion. (1.5 mil. x .43 x 44,622). These losses fall not only on medical facilities, but banks, utilities, governmental units, and businesses ranging from the largest corporations to your local mom and pop establishment.

Q5. Those affected by the costs of bankruptcy:

A. Say “Shucks, darn, and drat it all, we lose today.”

B. Pass on the costs to their customers, that is to you.

It has been documented numerous times that America has the most expensive health care system in the world. But a recent study of 17 developed nations, consisting of the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia, and the Western European countries by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine found that we came in dead (no pun intended) last in terms of health and life expectancy. Our failings were systemic throughout all socioeconomic groups.

Q6. This means:

A. Things are going real well, and whoopee for us.

B. It’s well past time to try to solve this problem before it ruins us financially.

I don’t really need to give you the answers, right?

Now for the concluding quotation, dedicated to those who want to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the problem, courtesy of the 1932 Marx Brothers’ film “Horse Feathers,” as sung by Groucho.

“Your proposition may be good,

But let’s have one thing understood,

Whatever it is, I’m against it.

And even when you’ve changed it

Or condensed it, I’m against it.”

Brian Johnson