Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the whole insurance thing is breaking down

An interesting article - the first of three - from the Los Angeles Times about how the American employer-based health insurance system is eroding.  From the article:

On Wall Street, they showcase their efforts to hold down expenses and maximize shareholder returns by excluding customers likely to need expensive care, including those with chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes. The companies lobby governments to take over responsibility for their sickest customers so they can reserve the healthiest (and most profitable) for themselves.

And we all know how hard it is to get private health care insurance if you can't get it thru your employer.  John McCain's $5000 tax credit won't help much - if you have a pre-existing condition that won't make even a dent in annual premiums, if you can even find somebody willing to insure you.  The big insurance companies primary activity is finding reasons to deny insurance to those who need it, and trying not to pay for procedures and medicines for those they deign to insure.

The system, always a jury-rigged thing that is an artifact of World War II wage caps, isn't working - if you define "working" as providing Americans with reasonable access to health care.  It works just fine for the big insurance companies' bottom lines.

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