Friday, September 28, 2007

Middle Men

I cringe when I hear people say "We NEED health insurance," because what I hear is "We NEED a middle man, to profit from our NEED for healthcare." When will the national discussion for health care change from demanding a profiteering middle man to demanding access to healthcare? It drives me crazy.

It seems to me that huge corporations are in the best position to offer their employees access to healthcare without the huge cost of health insurance.

Imagine this: General Motors hires an on-site nurse or doctor who not only administers to those minor ailments like the flu (with antibiotics), cuts, broken bones, but also helps to discern healthy work habits and gives dietary advice. This would give GM the incentive for more on-site extras that increase health and well-being. For the big stuff, GM foots the bill AND has a GM rep who negotiates charges for services with hospitals. Not only does someone from work pay your medical bills, but they act as a financial partner or life manager when you're too weak (and vulnerable) to do so yourself.

Let me put some numbers on this. At my last job, I paid $188/month for family coverage (pretty good, huh?), but my employer paid $800/month. If my academic institution employs 20,000 teachers and staff members that would be $16,000,000 per month. That's $192,000,000 per year. Wait, this has GOT to be wrong. This can't be possible. Well, my point is: wouldn't that much paid into a trust fund that promises to pay for medical bills be WAY more cost effective? And, if the university creates an office to handle medical costs for its employees, wouldn't you get much better prices, not to mention a partner to fight hospital charges?

The real answer is to socialize the profit out of healthcare completely while maintaining quality. Seems like a good first step to get rid of insurance companies. Maybe smaller companies, independent workers and the poor could depend on a government-backed system while insurance companies collapse.

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