8/10/2006

A BUG IN THE SYSTEM

by Janet A. Ginsburg

“Pricing health care? It’s not that easy” – that’s the headline in today's Chicago Tribune. The story outlines one of the more glaring Catch-22s of modern American health care, while deftly puncturing the myth of consumer choice.

It begins with the sad tale of Margaret Zilm, a Kansas City woman with a $5,000 deductible policy and a cataract in need of removal. Poor Margaret was spun in circles as she tried to shop around for a good deal. Doctors didn’t know how much her insurance company would pay. Her insurer refused to tell her. And the Missouri Department of Insurance hid behind a curtain of confidentiality, citing policy against revealing the details of doctor / insurer contracts.

As reporter Judith Graham notes:
“This wasn’t a problem until recently. Insurance used to cover most expenses, shielding people from the true cost of medical care. But new products – “consumer-driven health plans” – shift more financial responsibility to individuals and families, giving them a reason to pay more attention to what they’re spending.”
“Consumer-driven health plans”? If anybody's being driven, it's consumers -- six million, so far -- who are forced by spiraling insurance premiums to accept these less-for-more, high-deductible plans. Rather than create a health care system designed to promote health – both individual and public health – we now have a tangle of secret deals wrapped in a free-market bow of consumer choice....
_____________________________________

To read the full article, including info on using wildlife and pets for disease surveillance and in-store pharmacy clinics, go to the archives page at germtales.com

germtales is now a website. In addition to posts on subjects ranging from The Mystery of the Ancient Horses to Mind Germs, there are book reviews, interviews, news headline links and an extensive, eclectic sources page.

Thanks for your interest!

best,

Janet

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