Monday, August 24, 2009

Change Is Scary - Part 2

I think Health Care Reform deserves a serious discussion, not soundbites, scare tactics, lies, and ignorance. This is the second of my August Recess posts about health care reform.

Working for the insurance company is profitable.

After college I got a job in publishing. It was a good job with solid benefits and upward sloping career path. It didn't pay well, but you can't have everything. I was happy with it.

A friend got a job with an insurance company. She too had good benefits, though she didn't particularly enjoy her work. She was compensated for his with a generous salary. By which I mean that she made more than three times what I made with similar college degrees/training/experience, working a similar number of hours per week.

For contrast, after college I shared a cheap apartment with a roommate and scrounged to be able to afford - after a promotion - to lease a basic Saturn. With standard transmission, though I splurged on automatic windows.

She could afford an Audi, a condo by herself, and Italian leather furniture.

Her job was to talk to employees whose companies purchased her company's health insurance plans, explaining the new options each year and enrolling them in the appropriate plans. (I figured I had the better deal, all things considered.)

Last Thursday President Obama sat down with conservative radio host Michael Smerconish to talk about health care.

One caller said, "And we're very concerned that most of the money will actually go, instead of taking care of people, it will go to, you know, the cost of administering a huge government bureaucracy."

Obama replied, "The track record for government administering health care actually is surprisingly good. Medicare, for example, a government program, has much lower administrative costs than private insurers do."

That didn't surprise me at all. I live near a United Healthcare building with its attractive architecture, fabulous landscaping, and cascading waterfalls. Right out of college I had a friend who made a ton of money signing up shift workers for insurance plans.

The government - and especially government bureaucracy - are far from perfect. In fact sometimes they're undeniably bad. I am not about to praise government efficiency.

But let's not pretend that the system we've got currently is any better.

What can we create that IS better?

(Note: it's incredibly difficult to find raw numbers from official sources untainted by political spin. I checked out the Congressional Budget Office and the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO).)

Part 1 - Down Syndrome is a Pre-existing Condition

Part 2 - It Pays to Work for the Insurance Company
Part 3 - But We're the Best! Why Fix What Isn't Broken?
Part 4 - What Does "Reform" Really Mean?

The President's Plan for Health Care Reform


Topher said...

In fact, a friend of mine whose father works in public health was telling me that the cost of running or administrating Medicare is 5 cents on the dollar, while it is 15 cents on the dollar for the average private insurer. But, then there is the cost that hospitals pay, because they have entire divisions devoted to understanding all of the insurance coverages and what-not, and they on average spend 15 cents on the dollar for that. So a government-run option saves a factor of 6 in overall cost...

Sarahlynn said...

Chris, yep! And why there are more administrative than clinical employees in many physicians' offices. Yay for employment! Boo for LOTS of wasted resources.

"the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that administrative costs under the public Medicare plan are less than 2 percent of expenditures, compared with approximately 11 percent of spending by private plans under Medicare Advantage."